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The Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, often simply called the "Old Courthouse," was once the center of Vanderburgh County, Indiana government. Construction started in the spring of 1888 and was completed in November 1890. The building was ready to be occupied by the county government in early 1891. It sits in the heart of downtown Evansville.
Before the courthouse was built, the site was a basin where canal boats on the Wabash and Erie Canal would deliver cargo and turn around for the return trip north. After the advent of the railroads and the canal's abandonment, the site was filled in and the courthouse was constructed upon it.
The bell tower rises above the Old Courthouse to a height of 216 feet (66 m). The first level of the tower is enclosed with windows which allow sunlight to enter. The next level is open and houses the 4,500-pound (2,000 kg) Old Courthouse bell. The bell, manufactured by McShane Bell Foundry located in Baltimore, Maryland, has tolled at the Old Courthouse since August 20, 1890. The next level is enclosed and houses only the pulleys and inner workings of the clock. The four faces of the clock, each measuring 7.5 feet (2.3 m) in diameter with one facing each side of the building, are found on the final level of the tower. Finally, found on this level of the tower is a suspended staircase which winds to the top of the copper-clad central dome of the Old Courthouse; the base of the cupola sits atop the dome.
The building was designed by architect Henry W. Wolters of Louisville, Kentucky and constructed by the Charles Pearce & Company of Indianapolis. The 19th century German Beaux-Arts architecture masterpiece cost $379,450 to build. In addition, carvings of vegetables, fruits, and flowers indigenous to the area adorn the capitals of the forty-eight pairs of pilasters around the entire building.
October 16th, 2013
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