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April 30, 2004

Court House and Jail
This wooden, two-story courthouse provided office space for Noble county officers until the present three-story stone courthouse was built in 1915-16. The wooden courthouse was just east of the present stone building. Visible in the background at left is the wooden jail where county prisoners were held. (Photo from the collection of Fred G. Beers.)

Let's return to the series of columns that makes up the unofficial "History of Noble County Courthouse." Together those columns constitute a series of articles that began a few weeks ago but went on hiatus while the Perry school bond issue was being discussed. The bond issue failed but we will have another go at it later this year. The need for a new elementary school will not just go away. Neither will our problems with the need for a new jail and maintenance of the courthouse. The history of that proud structure is worthy of our attention.

A few years ago, Dean Courtright, chairman of the three-member board of commissioners, scanned historic records and came up with a brief but, precise history of the courthouse. His summary is contained in a neatly done four-page brochure that probably is available to the public. I have used it many times as a point of reference. According to Dean's history, the present-day courthouse was built in 1915-16. It replaced an old two-story frame building that served our county officials for several years in the early days of this little city. Before the wooden structure was built, most county offices were in rented rooms on the second floor of buildings around the square. The new (present-day) building was built in the courthouse park just west of the wooden courthouse. Mr. Courtright's brochure goes on to say: "Funds for construction of the new courthouse were derived from a bond issue of $100,000 worth of negotiable coupon bonds to be used for construction and furnishing the building." (Side Note: How far would that amount of money go today?)

The brochure continues: "The bonds were paid for by special taxes beginning with 1915 through 1935, inclusive, at an annual percentage, rate of 5 percent interest."

The brochure contains a lot of vital information for anyone interested in the background of our courthouse. We'll continue this story shortly.