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.
I will need to change the name of this blog series to 28 and Counting! I have added another county to the list of appearances in my law practice: Mount Carmel in Wabash County!
Odd that it took me so long to visit here (professionally). I have been through the town many times on my way to Indiana and borrowed books from its library through the inter-library loan program, but have never appeared here as an attorney. In over 20 years of practicing bankruptcy, a client from Wabash County/Mount Carmel was rare. Still, it is as far from my home as Murphysboro and Charleston – over an hour and a half drive one-way. A long way to go. Fortunately, I was in its neighboring county (Edwards) in the morning and accepted a case in Wabash County sixteen miles away for an afternoon hearing. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to add a new county!
Per Wikipedia: Mount Carmel is the county seat of Wabash County, Illinois, founded in 1815 with a population of 7,284 according to the last census.
Also per Wikipedia: Wabash County was formed in 1824 out of Edwards County, to avert an armed confrontation between the militias of Albion and Mt. Carmel after the county seat was moved from a town near the current city of Mount Carmel to Albion.
The courthouse is tucked into the northeastern corner of Market and Fourth Streets. It is a brick and concrete building – you’d miss it if you were not looking for it. Although there has been a courthouse at this location since 1881, the frontage of the courthouse was built in 1959. It was expanded eastward in 1963.
One could mistake it for a post office (which is one block or so to the north), if not for the flags and veteran’s memorials. A statue commemorating the Grand Army of the Republic dominates the corner, with another obelisk memorializing those killed in action in World Wars 1 & 2, Korea, Viet Nam and Iraq.
There is no grand echo-y lobby; instead direct and utilitarian (not meant in a critical way) hallways and staircases lead you to the offices and the courtroom. The courtroom is medium size and decorated in dark browns and deep blues. Like the building itself, it is larger than it seems from the outside: plenty of room and ample seating, but feels small and intimate without being crowded. A pro se Plaintiff (a person without an attorney) asked where the courtroom was. I had to tell her this was my first time here, too. We found it together. The docket call was quiet and dignified; it did not fill you with the awe of a towering lobby and a majestic bench, but you wanted to give it the respect it deserves.
Market Street (and the numbered streets intersecting it) is a thriving business district with boutiques, craft stores, a jewelry store and an historical museum.
It has a Ben Franklin! That was the go-to dime store of my childhood in those aulden days before Marts Wal and K. The only Ben Franklins I frequented in modern times were in Marion and Belleville. Both stores have since become solely craft/fabric stores; up until 1993 the one in Belleville still sold candy cigarettes! Mt. Carmel’s Ben Franklin is as the others now – a craft/fabric store.
While in Mount Carmel, enjoy some of the non-chain restaurants. I had the Rueben sandwich at Twin Rivers Restaurant with creamy cole slaw (I was in a cabbage-y mood for lunch). Yummy, filling and very well priced!
So I’ve added another county seat in my travels. Thanks for joining me!
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.