The Saint Joseph county courthouse stands tall in the middle of Centerville, The historical marker in front tells the story of this magnificent building and reads:
Michigan Territorial Governor George B. Porter proclaimed Centreville the St. Joseph County seat on November 22, 1831. Robert Clark Jr., Electra W. Dean, Charles Noble and Daniel B. Miller donated the public square and fifty-six additional lots to the county. The first courthouse, a Greek Revival structure with four large columns on its east portico, was built in the center of the square in 1842 by John Bryan. That building was removed in 1899, to make way for the present red brick and sandstone courthouse, whose construction began on September 8 of that year. Grand Rapids architect Sydney J. Osgood designed the Romanesque Revival structure, and Coldwater contractors Crookshank and Somers built it at a cost of $33,000.
The present St. Joseph County courthouse was dedicated on August 1, 1900. Its Romanesque Revival design creates a commodious, well-lighted, solid building that echoes the justice and stability it represents. Marble floors. wide spacious stairs, ornately carved woodwork, frosted glass doors, and three wall murals still grace the little-altered interior. The clock, whose faces are five and one-half feet in diameter, was purchased by the village of Centreville for $850 and placed in the seventy-five-foot tower prior to the completion of the courthouse. When the building became too small to accommodate all of the government offices, a new court building was constructed on the south side of the public square. The courthouse, however, remains the seat of government.
I have been slowly accumulating photos of all the county courthouses. In my hometown of Saginaw, the historic Victorian-era courthouse was demolished in the 1960s. There was nothing wrong with the building, the county just wanted something more modern looking, The new courthouse is a rather boring looking building. If you live somewhere with a historic courthouse or city hall I hope the community appreciates the history and architecture.
If you live near Omer I hope you will come out to my presentation on Monday, November 4th at the historic Masonic Lodge at 7 pm.
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