WELCOME County Seats & Courthouses: Cambria - Cumberland WELCOME


Cambria County, Ebensburg (pop. 3,090). EBENSBURG, from Illustrated Historical Combination Atlas of Cambria County Pennsylvania, J. A. Caldwell, published by Atlas Publishing Company, Philadelphia 1890. Ebensburg is a small town in the center of the county. The courthouse sits a block off the main crossroads and the building shown on this map is prior to enlargement around 1920. Ebensburg and Johnstown were founded around the same time, circa 1795, but Johnstown grew more rapidly because of its river location and subsequent industry and became a city. Ebensburg, with its central location, has always been the county seat. Portions of the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Landmark are just east and south of Ebensburg.

The Courthouse (1923). The first courthouse was built in 1808 with the ground floor serving as the jail. A new courthouse was built in 1830 at the current site and subsequently demolished for the present building. The center section was built around 1880; however, in the early 1920s the structure was completely rebuilt with left, right, and rear wings added, so it is best dated to this period. Restoration work was done in the 1990's, including the elaborate double ramp at the front for the disabled. There are no attached additions or annexes, probably because the population of the county has remained static. It also lacks a tower removed during the rebuilding; the bell sits in front of the entrance . The appearance of the tower can be seen in this view of the courthouse before rebuilding from the 1890 county atlas. The structure is brick and stone in the French Second Empire style and notable for the extensive stone trim for story separation, window decoration, and quoins at the corners. This courthouse is especially impressive when viewed approaching Ebensburg from the east on Route 22, looming up atop the hill like a medieval fortress over a village. And speaking of fortresses, the old county jail , circa 1870s, sits two blocks away and is now the county archives building.

Cameron County, Emporium (pop. 2,530). This is a circa 1870 woodcut town view of Emporium taken from Egle looking west to east. The old courthouse is shown on the hillside a block up from the main street; the present building sits in the same spot. Emporium would certainly place on a list of out-of-the-way county seats. It is one of only two boroughs in the county, the other is Driftwood. In colonial times, it was the southern endpoint for an important portage that ran twenty odd miles over the hills from Sinnemahoning Creek to the Allegheny River.

The Courthouse (1890). The present courthouse, begun in 1890, incorporates the previous 1861 building shown on the map. Entry is through three large Romanesque arches in front. There are some nice touches to this building, the projected tower, the Victorian octagon, and the arched windows. The section on the right is a modern (circa 2000) addition, noticable by the newer red brick and utilitarian construction. The courthouse sits on a spacious hillside lot with several war memorials.

Carbon County, Jim Thorpe (pop. 4,800). MAUCH CHUNK from Flagstaff No. 555, by William Herman Rau, January 21, 1896. This is a panoramic photo from the Library of Congress collection looking west or upstream along the Lehigh River. Jim Thorpe originally was called Mauch Chunk from an old Indian phrase, and how it got to be Jim Thorpe is a rather tawdry tale involving a famous corpse of that name. The courthouse sits near the Lehigh River on a flat spot, the rest of the town winds up the valley behind the hill on the left in this photo, as shown in this old woodcut . This conventional map is from a tourist brochure titled Jim Thorpe and surrounding area 2006-07 Visitors' Guide. A newer section of town is on the other side of the river, to the right in the photo. The borough of Jim Thorpe has two National Historic Landmarks, the Asa Packer Mansion and Saint Marks Episcopal Church.

The Courthouse (1893). Carbon County was founded in 1843 and the first courthouse was typical mid-century Classical Revival style. The present 1893 building occupies a narrow corner lot at the end of the main drag near the river, and is in the Romanesque style with arched stone-trimmed windows and a large square projecting tower. It is deeper than wide and "L" shaped, with an (unseen) 20th century addition extending behind the adjoining building. Built in very dark reddish stone, this courthouse has a couple small side gables and another arched entrance at the rear next to an 1886 veterans memorial.

Centre County, Bellefonte (pop. 6,400). BELLEFONTE, from Atlas of Centre County, Pennsylvania published by A. Pomeroy & Co., Philadelphia, 1874. "Beautiful Fountain" refers to a large spring in the center of town. Bellefonte, perhaps along with Milesburg, was the largest town in the county for a long while before eclipsed by State College and the exploding Penn State University. It has the distinction of being the town closest to the state's geographical center, hence the county name complete with British spelling. The courthouse sits at the head of the main street as shown on the map. The open area behind it is now occupied by later annex buildings.

The Courthouse (1855). A two story limestone structure was the first courthouse, constructed in 1805 at the present site. Brick wings were added in 1811 and the Classical Revival portico in 1835. However, in 1855 the entire structure behind the portico and front facade was torn down and the present building put up. To the rear are later additions. The courthouse sits at the head of the main drag in Bellefonte, which itself is lined with fine old buildings. A bell tower with a clock face sits over the portico, standard for the classical style in courthouses, but out of place for a Greek temple obviously. In the days before telephones, the bell called the court to session. The statue in front is of Civil War governor Andrew Curtin.

Chester County, West Chester (pop. 17,860). This small scale street map of West Chester is a section from SMITH'S NEW MAP OF PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY, published by J. L. Smith, 27 South Sixth St. Philadelphia 1881. It is a pocket map printed on two sheets, each 27 x 22 inches, then backed with linen and pasted into a 6 x 4 inch brown hardback cover with the western sheet, containing West Chester, on the front cover and the eastern sheet on the back cover. The streets on this grid are unnamed, but the courthouse is located at High & Market. West Chester is the home of West Chester University, one of the schools in the State System of Higher Education, and called State Normal School on this map. West Chester is a borough, the only city in the county is Coatesville.

The Courthouse (1846). The old courthouse can be seen on the left in this circa 1840 view. The present courthouse is one of the better known in the state, mostly because the original part is the work of a famous architect, Thomas U. Walter, who later became architect of the United States Capitol and whose major buildings, such as this one, were in the classical style. But known also for the preposterous tower that caps this otherwise handsome Classical Revival building. The Walter part (a circa 1875 view ) dates to 1846. In 1892 a transverse addition at the rear gave the building a "T" shape. This addition is not quite harmonious. The windows look different, the roof line does not match, and the stone is a shade whiter. In 1964 an annex was attached to the northern side of this addition, to the right in the photo. A new and very large Justice Center is currently (2006) under construction and will assume most courthouse functions for this populous county, although the Walter courthouse will survive. The prominent statue in front is a generic memorial to "Old Glory", i.e. the flag, leaving room for interpretation of the figure. One possibility is that it represents any of a multitude of politicians wrapping himself in the flag just before election.

Clarion County, Clarion (pop. 6,190). MAP OF CLARION BOROUGH CLARION TWP., from Caldwell's Illustrated Historical Combination Atlas of Clarion Co. Pennsylvania, by J. A. Caldwell 1877, engraved, lithographed & printed by Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh. The courthouse sits adjacent to the Public Square on Main Steet, how more classic can you get. The building shown on the map is the old courthouse. Clarion lies on a plateau above the Clarion River, the largest relatively unharmed and unpolluted river in the state. It flows into the Allegheny. The town is the home of Clarion University, one of the state universities, whose grounds lie to the east of downtown.

The Courthouse (1884). The first courthouse was built in 1843 at the present site. It burned down and the second building, shown in this view from the county atlas, put up. It also burned down and was replaced in 1884 by the present brick structure with the huge tower, over 200 feet high, dominating the downtown. The architectural style of this building has been called Queen Anne, a term used to define an asymmetric decorative style with long windows and steeply pitched irregular and intersecting roofs. Although, given the huge square tower and narrow windows, Romanesque Revival would fit as well. Entrance is through the front under "Lady Justice" with her scales atop the tower. Just behind the courthouse is a quaint, old jail built in 1874 and directly across the street is the park.

Clearfield County, Clearfield (pop. 6,630). CLEARFIELD, CLEARFIELD COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA, 1895, drawn by T. M. Fowler, Morrisville, Pa., published by T. M. Fowler & James B. Moyer. This is a town view, or panoramic map, from the Library of Congress. The present courthouse is shown, much as it looks today. Three blocks north, to the left on the map, lies the old jail next to the river, the West Branch of the Susquehanna. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century Clearfield was a major logging center where large rafts of logs assembled for journeys down the Susquehanna. Dubois is the only city in the county and a somewhat bigger town than Clearfield.

The Courthouse (1862). The original courthouse, the building at right with belfry in this old view , was built in 1815 and replaced by the present structure in 1862, which occupies a narrow building lot on a street corner. A wider addition was made to the rear in 1884, noticable by different brick, giving the present building a very slight "T" shape. The overall design is rather eclectic, with no definite style. The flattop tower projects from the front and is open at the bottom to form a porch for the entrance. The large stele in front of the tower contains the Ten Commandments. The other notable feature is the use of gables on all sides. The addition of 1884 repeats the original side gable giving the present double side gable look. An annex in the back is connected to the courthouse by a second story covered walkway. The old jail , built in 1872 and a couple blocks away along the river, still survives and is occupied by a local business.

Clinton County, Lock Haven (pop. 9,150). This lightly printed map of central Lock Haven is from a tourist brochure titled Welcome to Lock Haven Pennsylvania. Lock Haven seems to be one of those towns with few old maps. The courthouse is next to the bridge over the West Branch of the Susquehanna. As the name implies the city of Lock Haven was originally a stop for canal boats. Today, it is probably best known for Lock Haven University, one of the schools in the state system, and to the north and west of the downtown area shown on the map.

The Courthouse (1869). The county was created in 1839 and the first courthouse is prominent in this circa 1840 view. The greatly elongated arched windows marching completely around the structure are the most striking feature of the present Romanesque Revival courthouse. The towers are the same basic design but one is higher with a clock midsection. This seems like a last minute addition, however the Venango County courthouse has the same arrangement by the same architects. The rear section was added in 1936 and gives the building a "T" shape. It matches the original building very well, and today the whole structure is painted to give it an integrated appearance. The rock in the photo is a memorial.

  Columbia County, Bloomsburg (pop. 12,380). BLOOMSBURG TOWN OF BLOOMSBURG, from Atlas of Columbia and Montour Counties, Penn., published by F. W. Beers in 1876. Bloomsburg is covered with two large three panel foldout maps in this atlas. This view is the section showing the courthouse, just off the main intersection on Second Street. Bloomsburg is unique as the only Pennsylvania municipality classified as a town; all others are either cities or boroughs. It is home to Bloomsburg University, one of the state schools, and called a State Normal School (to the right) when this map was made. When entering town along Second Street, the imposing building straight ahead with the white tower is not the courthouse, but a university building.

The Courthouse (1890). The core of this courthouse was constructed in 1848; an addition was added to the rear in 1868 giving this circa 1875 appearance . In 1890 a major reconstruction and addition to the front in the Romanesque Revival style yielded the present building, called the second courthouse. The Romanesque front consists of three sections, a projecting bay at right, a large square tower, and a half octagon at left. There is a small porch over the entrance. The oldest section behind the front has narrow windows with raised separating brick work. The rear section is small and utilitarian in a different brick.

Crawford County, Meadville (pop. 13,690). MAP OF THE CITY OF MEADVILLE, from New Historical Atlas of Crawford Co. Pennsylvania Illustrated by Everts, Ensign & Everts, Philadelphia 1876. This map shows only half the town, with the courthouse toward the bottom adjacent to the town square, called the Diamond. The building shown would be the old 1869 courthouse. In addition to the courthouse, there are an unusual number of churches around the square, four or five, giving the (undoubtedly unintended) impression of a community in need of redemption. Allegheny College, whose grounds are shown at the top of the map, is the oldest college under the same name west of the Alleghenies, founded in 1815. The University of Pittsburgh is older, but has undergone a couple of name changes. There is one other city in the county, Titusville.

The Courthouse (1952). The old courthouse can be seen in this circa 1840 view, and stood on the site of the present one. The previous courthouse , finished in 1869, can be seen in this view from the atlas. It was unfortunately totally rebuilt in 1952 with the present Neoclassic look. If preserved, it would have been one of the earliest public buildings of Second Empire style architecture, and hence more noteworthy than the present structure. According to one of the reliefs adjacent to the entrance doors, the rebuilding incorporated the previous courthouse. The present building is certainly acceptable, built in red brick and stone with a large entrance portico between projecting wings, and a clock tower above.

Cumberland County, Carlisle (pop. 17,970). BOROUGH OF CARLISLE, from Atlas of Cumberland Co., Pennsylvania, published by F. W. Beers & Co., New York, 1872. Only the main downtown area is shown in this view of Carlisle. The old courthouse is marked at the intersection of Hanover and Main. Just across the street is a Market, now the site of the new courthouse. Today Carlisle is best known as the location of the Army War College and Dickinson College. The Carlisle Indian School is a National Historic Landmark, whose most famous graduate was Jim Thorpe (see Carbon County).

The Courthouse (1961). Cumberland County was founded in 1749. The first courts were held in 1750 in the Widow Piper Tavern , still standing in Shippensburg. The seat was moved to the more central Carlisle, where two courthouses face one another across Hanover Street. The old courthouse is a two story Classical Revival brick building with portico and clock tower built in 1846, and is still used for county offices. It replaced a still older building shown on the left in this circa 1840 view . The newer building of 1960s vintage is four story brick utilitarian style, with four columns in front to make it look like a courthouse. The courtrooms are all on the fourth floor which has larger windows.

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