Saturday, October 07, 2006

County Courthouses

Michigan is extremely lucky to have such unique and beautiful county courthouses. In other parts of the United States, the original structures are often demolished and replaced with ugly, box-like buildings, but the county seats of Michigan seem to have a reverence for their historic courthouses. Sometimes, the buildings are restored and used not for government purposes, but as museums or tourist centers. In the case of the Muskegon County Courthouse, the building -- an imposing castle-like structure -- has been converted into the base for the local Board of Education.

Whatever their current use may be, Michigan's county courthouses are worth checking out. Most of them have beautiful ornamentation and exterior detail, and some are even adorned with mascarons or other gargoyle-ish figures. A common feature is a cupola or dome, though there are several exceptions throughout the state.

Board of Education building (Muskegon County Courthouse)

The solidly-built Muskegon County Courthouse in Muskegon.

Eaton County Courthouse

The recently-restored Eaton County Courthouse in Charlotte. It was built in 1883.

Lenawee County Courthouse, Adrian, MI

The Lenawee County Courthouse in Adrian.

Ingham County Courthouse

Built in 1904, the Ingham County Courthouse in Mason was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

Chippewa County Courthouse

The beautiful Chippewa County Courthouse in Sault Ste. Marie was built in 1877 and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Van Buren County Courthouse, Paw Paw, MI

The Van Buren County Courthouse in Paw Paw, built in 1901. This building has some fantastic ornamentation.

Grand Traverse County Courthouse, Traverse City, MI

Traverse City's Grand Traverse County Courthouse, built in 1900, is a very plain structure free of almost all exterior ornamentation.

Last view of the courthouse before leaving Hillsdale

The Hillsdale County Courthouse in Hillsdale -- quite similar to the Van Buren County Courthouse.

Of course, there are many more lovely courthouses in this state, and as I continue to explore Michigan, I'll be sure to visit the county seats and photograph their courthouses.

I'd also like to congratulate the Detroit Tigers for their champagne-soaked series victory over the New York Yankees!


Mark said...

Wow -- nice seeing these anew -- and really nice job, Mo!

Seth said...

The midwest in general has much better courthouses than the rest of the country. I think this is because it was such a prosperous area, even in rural agricultural counties. I can't come up with a really satisfactory explanation, but I'm sure a sociologist/historian could. Of course, Texas has about 60 great ones, but then there are 254 counties.

Anonymous said...
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WDCII said...

That's not actually Muskegon County's courthouse. That's the old Hackley School, now the Hackley Administration building.

Instead of a nice, romanesque building like that, we have this:

The Michael E. Kobza Hall of Justice

Anonymous said...

I'm designed capitals for a clients and stumbled on your photos in a search for Gothic Column Capitel photos. Your photos are great! I miss Michigan about 100 times more than before viewing.

Marjorie B.