As a Mount Vernon, Illinois attorney, I travel throughout the state practicing law and meeting with clients about topics ranging from bankruptcy to estate law, from divorce to litigation. In my travels, I enjoy seeing the courthouses in our county seats. Occasionally in my blog I will stop to describe these wonderful buildings and the towns and cities in which they set.
Louisville, Illinois is the county seat of Clay County. The green city limits sign, so familiar to anyone who travels Illinois’ highways, says its population is 1,200. Wikipedia says 1,139.
The courthouse is a few blocks east of the major highway (US 45) running north and south of the town. It sets on a hill overlooking the town square. In its prime it must have been the place to be. It takes little imagination to see the townsfolk sitting on its benches laughing, talking and solving all the problems of the world. Children playing tag; men playing checkers; picnics on the lawn during the 4th of July with fireworks blasting overhead.
“The Clay County Courthouse, located at 300 Broadway Street in Louisville, is the county courthouse serving Clay County, Illinois. Built in 1913, the courthouse was Clay County’s fourth courthouse; it has served continuously as the seat of Clay County government since its opening. Architect Joseph W. Royer, who planned several other Illinois courthouses, designed the Classical Revival building. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.
Clay County was formed in 1824, and its county commissioners established its first county seat in Hubbardsville the following year. Local landowner Daniel May donated the land for and built the county’s first courthouse, a wooden building; the county seat was renamed Maysville in his honor. The Illinois State Legislature ordered a meeting of the county commissioners in 1841 to discuss relocating the county seat, and the commissioners decided to move the seat to Louisville. After some legal difficulties, Louisville’s first permanent courthouse opened in 1846. Clay County received its third courthouse in the 1870s, when a two-story Italianate building replaced the 1846 courthouse. Throughout the late 19th century, the citizens of Flora attempted to relocate the county seat to their city; however, Louisville won two relocation votes in 1861 and the early 1900s and kept the seat. The county planned to remodel its courthouse; however, it ultimately opted to build an entirely new building. This building, the current courthouse, was completed in 1913. Louisville’s newspaper, the Southern Illinois Record, initially showed some editorial skepticism as to the need for a new building; by the time of its completion, though, it had rallied behind the new courthouse, which it described as one of the finest in Southern Illinois. The 1913 courthouse has housed the county’s many government functions and kept its public records since its construction.
Architect Joseph W. Royer of Urbana, Illinois designed the courthouse. Royer designed many government buildings across the Midwest throughout his career; his other designs in Illinois included courthouses in Champaign, Douglas, Marion, and Piatt counties. Royer used the Classical Revival style, which became popular in America in the 1890s and remained so through the 1940s, for the courthouse. The building is situated on a mound in Louisville’s village square and is the highest and most prominent building in the city’s downtown. The two-story structure has a square main block with slightly shorter wings on the east and west sides. The main entrances to the courthouse are located on the north and south sides of the building; the south entrance, which was originally the front entrance, has more ornamentation than its northern counterpart. Both sides have three bays in the central block and one each on the wings; the central bays are demarcated by four Tuscan columns. Both entrances are topped by a transom and segmental arch, with a panel between the two on the south side; windows with bracketed entablatures adjoin each entrance. A balustrade encircles the roof’s edge and is punctuated by a pediment with a cartouche above the south entrance. Interior decorations include Doric columns, fretwork floor tiles, Roman-style grilles, and architrave trim.”
The courthouse sets in a brick-lined square surrounded by antique stores, title companies, attorneys’ offices and the local newspaper. In the northwest corner of the courtyard sets some millstones from (at the latest) 1880.
The courthouse building is pillaried and stately. The interior opens into a huge lobby ringed with courtrooms and clerks’ offices. The tiled floor looks original and is lovely. Equally impressive are the courteous deputies at the entry and in the courtrooms and the friendly and very helpful clerks.
I enjoy listening to the echoes while standing in the huge lobby; it takes you back to the beginning of the twentieth century. You expect to see Gregory Peck in a seersucker suit walking down the winding staircase. The building conveys dignity. I love the place and am always pleased when I know I am heading north to practice before their bar on some motion or other hearing.
About the blogger:
Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.
He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!
Whether you live in Flora, Centralia or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!
You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com