A handsome 1830s building
The historic Todd County Courthouse sets on the town square in Elkton, Kentucky. It was built in 1835-1836 to replace a smaller courthouse, built in 1821.
This structure served as the seat of county government for the next 140 years, until a new, one-story courthouse was built in 1975-1976.
Near the end of the Civil War (1865), the Todd County Courthouse was occupied by Union forces. They left the building in a damaged state, and a major renovation was carried out in 1871. The cupola was added at that time.
Ironically, the occupation of the courthouse probably saved it from being burned. Confederate General Hylan B. Lyon torched 7 courthouses in Western Kentucky to prevent them from falling into Union hands, including the courthouses of Christian, Trigg, and Caldwell counties, just west of Todd County.
The Wikipedia entry for the old Todd County Courthouse says that the cupola was originally painted orange, olive green, and beige. Wow.
The old courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Many other fine old buildings surround the courthouse square. They were added to the National Register in 1989 as the "Elkton Commercial Historic District."
Photos of the interior of the old courthouse appear at the Old Courthouse Preservation Project webpage. The October, 2006, minutes of the Elkton City Council state that a museum is planned for the second floor of the building, and a Welcome Center is planned for the first floor.
I admire Elkton and Todd County for choosing to preserve their old buildings rather than demolish them. Downtown Elkton has its own unique atmosphere, and the old Todd County Courthouse is its jewel.
Most of the historic information in this post comes from two great books about Kentucky:
- John W. Carpenter's Kentucky Courthouses by John W. Carpenter & William B. Scott, Jr. (Copyright 1988 by John W. Carpenter and William B. Scott, Jr. and published by John W. Carpenter, London KY.)
- The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleeber. (Copyright 1992 by the University Press of Kentucky, Lexington.)