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.
Johnson County was organized in 1812 out of Randolph County. It was named for Richard M. Johnson, who was then a U.S. Congressman from Kentucky. In 1813, Johnson commanded a Kentucky regiment at the Battle of the Thames, after which he claimed to have killed Tecumseh in hand-to-hand combat. Johnson went on to be Vice President of the United States.
The population of Vienna was 1,434 at the 2010 census. It is a lovely town and I enjoyed driving around seeing the sights!
The Trail of Tears halfway point commemorative totem and flags are located in the adjacent city park.
The courthouse was built from 1869 to 1871; as county records are unclear on the matter, the courthouse was either the fourth or fifth built in the county and the second or third in Vienna. Architect Niles Llewelly Wickwire designed the courthouse in the Italianate style. The courthouse’s design features narrow arched windows with iron hoods, brick quoins on the corners, triangular pediments above the east and west entrances, and a bracketed cornice. The roof is topped by an octagonal cupola with a clock facing each side of the building. The courthouse has functioned continuously since its opening.
A marker in front of the courthouse gives more details:
“The contract for the present courthouse was let on August 5, 1868 for $38,000. Final payment was made in 1881 with the total cost of $80,000. When the courthouse was completed, it was one of the most attractive ones in the area. About 1908 the interior of the building was rearranged, fire proof vaults built, a heating plant installed, and a local water supply system added. During the 1960s the courthouse got a much needed facelift when it was sandblasted and tuck pointed. The east and west entrances were sealed up and enclosed into offices to give more room. The clock has been recently repaired and again can be heard striking the hours. Some of the county offices have now moved in a building on the west side of the square in an effort to relieve overcrowding. Much of the work on the grounds of the courthouse was done by the Daniel Chapman Chapter DAR. They were responsible for much of the coping wall around the court square which was completed in 1920. In 1921 the sidewalks were laid. … The cannon in the northwest corner was used during the Civil War. … ”
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 9, 2010
The courthouse has the familiar design of a long narrow first floor leading to offices as corner circular stairways (with the familiar creaking underfoot) leading to a modern, comfortable courtroom.
The lawn of the courthouse has historical markers and lots of benches to relax on a lovely day. The surrounding shops are typical for a county seat – offices and (open and closed) antique or second-hand shops.
Its age makes it regal and one can imagine standing here one hundred – or even one hundred and fifty – years ago.
A lovely historic courthouse for a lovely historic town!
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 Grayville, West Salem, 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