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Vigo County Courthouse, Terre Haute, Indiana
Vigo County Courthouse, Terre Haute, Indiana, photographed in the early 1950s by Robert L. McKee.
The large, four story, brick building on the northeast corner of third and Ohio streets became the "temporary courthouse", and served in that capacity for 22 years. The current courthouse was started with the laying of the 10,000 lb cornerstone on August 14, 1884 and completed in 1888. The architect was Samuel Hannaford of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the builder was Terre Haute Stone Co. who completed the building for a cost of $443,000.00. The new courthouse was dedicated June 7, 1888.
The courthouse was designed in the French Neo-Barogue style which was very popular in the 1880's. This style is sometimes referred to as "Stone Quarry Style" because of the elaborate use of stone decoration, ornate columns, oversized keystones, etc. The building is 226 feet in width from north to south, 277 feet long from east to west, and 88 feet high, while the total height measured from the ground to the top of the cupola is 284 feet. The building is constructed from Indiana limestone from the Stinesville quarries. A special order was made by the county commissioners for the clock atop the dome, in which it was expressly provided that the gong should be the Francis Vigo memorial bell.
The public dedication of the courthouse was set for June 7, 1888, and the county commissioners specified that the dedication exercises should be at no cost to the county. Ceremonies were set to begin at 10 o'clock in the morning but long before the festivities were scheduled to begin people began pouring into the corridors and filling the rooms all over the building.
Crowds of strangers swarmed into the building at every entrance. Shortly before 10 o'clock the Ringgold Band stationed in the center of the lower corridor, and the Military Band, at the south center of the long corridor on the second floor, played to entertain the many visitors. At 10 o'clock the ceremonies began in the courtroom when Judge Allen introduced Col. Richard W. Thompson as the First speaker. After many other speakers the crowds inspected the hallways and other parts of the building, and at night there was a large pyrotechnic display from the courthouse roof that completed the days activities.
Submitted by Beth McKee Olson, daughter of Robert L. McKee