Caldwell County Courthouse and downtown Princeton, KY
I've been doing a little research lately on WPA buildings in this area of Kentucky. To my surprise, I learned that Princeton, a small town northwest of Hopkinsville, has one of the few Art Deco courthouses built by the WPA in Kentucky.
I had only been in the downtown area of Princeton once, so Dennis and I drove over to look at the Caldwell County courthouse last Sunday. It is a striking, concrete building that sits on the square in the center of Princeton. Each of its four sides has a dramatic doorway, but the main entrance with the widest steps (photo above) is on the south.
Here's a closer look at the south facade (above photo.) This is the area directly above the doorway. The very austere eagles are repeated around the building.
On the east and west sides, the stylized leaves between the first and second floor windows surely must represent tobacco. At the top of the building, another set of designs may represent plants -- tobacco again? I'm not sure.
One wall has a bust of George Washington (I think) under a giant, rounded-off, concrete ledge that is an architectural detail of that wall. You can see the ledge and the bust protruding from the side of the building in the photo below (upper right.)
This is the north entrance (above photo.) In case you get disoriented, the direction is inscribed above each doorway. I wonder if the pillars in front, with the inset glass blocks, might light up from the inside.
The buildings in the two photos above are just a few of the interesting old storefronts in the downtown area around the courthouse. I believe that Princeton has done a better job of preserving its old architecture and keeping some business downtown than Hopkinsville has done.
The church in the photo above is the Christ Tabernacle. The sign says it's a non-denominational church and everyone is welcome. Nearby there's also a large Baptist church. Both churches are only about a block from the courthouse.
I want to drive back over to Princeton and look inside the courthouse on a weekday. I'm curious whether the interior has any distinctive Art Deco features.
General Harlan B. Lyon of the Confederacy burned the Caldwell County courthouse, the Christian County Courthouse (in Hopkinsville), and others during the Civil War so they wouldn't fall into Union hands. He was said to be the "courthouse-burn'est" general around.
Caldwell County built another courthouse after the war was over. It must have been in poor repair or too small, because they needed another new one by the time the WPA was looking for projects during the Great Depression.