Courthouse tours featured in ALL-IN Block Party June 25

ALBION — It isn’t just a building. Not just a sum of the brick, motor, wood and glass used in its construction.

The Noble County Courthouse is a living, breathing piece of ongoing history.

During the Noble County All-IN Block Party on June 25, spectators will have three opportunities for special tours of the building that has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The tours will be given by Noble County Circuit Court Judge G. David Laur and Noble County Clerk Shelley Mawhorter at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. the day of the block party.

Both are passionate about the courthouse.

“I have lawyers that come from all over the state with high praise,” Laur said. “Our County Commissioners over the years have done a great job of maintaining it.”

Laur’s Circuit Court, in particular, has been restored through his efforts into its past glory. But the courts have managed to update to the latest technology without losing the historical feel of the building.

According to information on the website,

“Noble County was organized in 1836 by an act of the Legislature and the appointed Commissioners originally chose Sparta as the county seat, though no county buildings were ever erected there. Residents objected to the erection of buildings so far from the center of the county and the Commissioners then agreed on a new location, Augusta, a point two miles west of Albion. A Courthouse and jail were built at that location in 1837 and in 1843 the courthouse was accidentally destroyed by fire.

“In 1844, Commissioners relocated the seat of justice to Port Mitchell and a temporary building was erected for a courthouse. Soon after, however, the Legislature passed an act which provided for an election in 1846 to choose a county seat. In June 1846, Albion (then known as the “Center”) was chosen and a frame courthouse was built on this site in 1847 by Samuel T. Clyner for the sum of $4,045. It resembled a courthouse in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. The courthouse was again destroyed by fire on Jan. 25, 1859, and arson was suspected.

The second courthouse on this site was built by George Harvey in 1861 at a cost of $11,000. The building soon became too small and it was decided to build a larger building on this site.

“In the fall of 1887 it was demolished and construction soon began on the current courthouse.

“Architect Edward O. Fallis designed the Romanesque structure for the cost of $114,062.41. The cornerstone was laid on May 29, 1888 and it was dedicated on Oct. 15, 1889, a remarkable construction achievement.”

With court cases taking place nearly every day on the third floor of the building, the old building continues to make its historical mark, Mawhorter said.

“Everything that happens on the third floor has the capability of making history,” she said. “It’s on the historic registry. I love this building. I love the circuit court room.”

Mawhorter said her goal is that people who take part in the tours will leave with an appreciation of the architecture and ongoing historical significance of the building.

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