Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Christian County Courthouse

Historic public building in Hopkinsville, KY

The construction of the Christian County courthouse was completed in 1869. The previous courthouse was burned by Confederate General Lyon in 1864 to prevent it from falling into Union hands. (I guess it made sense to him, at the time. He burned seven courthouses in western Kentucky.)

The courthouse originally had a large cupola on the top front, just behind the balcony roof. It was replaced in 1903 with another cupola. (Hopkinsville Nostalgia has a postcard image from 1908 of the second cupola.)

In 1960, the first major alteration was done to the exterior of the building. I believe the cupola was lost at that time. According to Christian County historian William Turner, the alterations from 1960 and onward were architectural disasters. Nonetheless, I think it's an interesting old building.
In the photograph at right, the front door is seen from the inside. The twin staircases lead to the former court chambers on the second floor. (Court sessions are now held in a new building, the Christian County Justice Center.)

The old courtroom is still used for various official meetings and also for driving school for people who have received a speeding ticket. (Hmmm, how would I know about that?!)

Courthouse-1The image at left shows the first floor hallway as you would see it when walking through the front door. The county clerk's office occupies most of this floor. The sign at the end of the hallway points to a section of the county clerk's office that I visit a couple of times each year -- motor vehicle registrations. I may have been in the other county clerk sections two or three times in the last ten years.

My kids have unique memories of feeling excited and nervous in this hallway. When the Hopkinsville High School choirs performed at the Alhambra Theater, just north of the courthouse, the 120 (or so) choir members met in the courthouse hallway. Here, they warmed up, and from here, they processed to the theater when it was their group's turn to perform.

For this post, I chose to use sepia-tinted images because the building looks so old fashioned. You can hardly tell whether these photos were taken in 1940, 1980, or 2008. If you'd like to see the same photos in color, they are linked below:

Christian County Courthouse
Front door, Christian County Courthouse
Main hallway, Christian County Courthouse


John Ruberry said...

Kansas, as you know, has a lot of great courthouses.

Genevieve said...

There are some very interesting old county courthouses across the nation. I hope they will all be preserved as historic buildings. Most of the new public buildings don't have half the style and character.

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