Chemung County Courthouse
The Chemung County Courthouse Complex (210-229 Lake Street) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Chemung County Courthouse Complex consists of four buildings: the Courthouse, the County Clerk's Office, the Courthouse Annex, and the District Attorney's and Treasurer's Building.
Chemung County Courthouse
Number of stories - Two stories; tower is three stories.
Number of Bays - The west (front) facade consists of a projecting central section which is three bays wide and is flanked on each side by a section which is one bay wide.
Shape of plan - Irregular. The Chemung County Courthouse is connected on the north by a cantilevered passageway to the District Attorney's and Treasurer's Building.
Wall construction - Brick and concrete foundations; brick walls laid up in common bond and painted tan.
Roof - Gabled roof. The parapet at the southwest corner of the building has arched battlements.
Cornice - Bracketed cornice above brick corbeling.
Porch - The entrance to the Chemung County Courthouse building is through a doorway in the central section of the west facade. The first story of this central section consists of three arches behind which the exterior wall is recessed, thus forming a protected entranceway.
Other notable exterior features - At the northeast corner of the Chemung County Courthouse building there is a three-story bell tower with a bracketed cornice and corbelled frieze below a parapet which has arched battlements. A belt course with modillions separates the first and second stories. Square-headed windows in the first story are surrounded with architraves having quoin-like patterns which are repeated at the corners of the building. Round-headed windows in the second story have arch hoodmolds, which are rusticated above those over the three central windows.
Chemung County Clerk's Office
Number of Stories - Two stories.
Number of bays - The west (front) facade is three bays wide.
Shape of plan - Irregular.
Wall construction - Stone foundations; brick walls laid up in common bond and painted tan.
Roof, cornice - Gabled roof, covered with standing seam sheet metal. Corbeled brick frieze below cornice. Tower-like projections at northwest and southwest corners of building each have a flat roof, corbeled brick frieze, and battlements.
Other notable exterior features - Datestone on west facade reads "1875". There are stone quoins at corners of the Chemung County Courthouse building on the first story.
Chemung County Courthouse Annex
Number of stories - Two stories.
Number of bays - The west (front) facade is seven bays wide. The south facade is three bays wide.
Shape of plan - Rectangular.
Wall construction - Stone foundations, walls of brick laid up in common bond and painted tan.
Roof - Flat roof covered with sheet metal. Battlements at portions of roof line.
Cornice - Corbeled brick frieze below cornice.
Other notable exterior features - Detailing on the Chemung County Courthouse Annex building is very similar to that on the County Clerk's Office. There is a Civil War memorial in the yard in front of the building.
District Attorney's and Treasurer's Building
Number of stories - Two stories.
Number of bays - West (front) facade is three bays wide.
Shape of plan - L-shaped. The District Attorney's and Treasurer's Building is connected on the south side by a cantilevered passageway to the Chemung County Courthouse.
Wall construction - Stone and brick foundations; walls of brick laid up in common bond and painted tan.
Structural system - Load-bearing masonry walls.
Roof - Intersecting gabled roof covered with shingles. Dentilated cornice above wide, brick frieze.
Porch - A pedimented two-story portico with four Ionic columns extends across the west facade.
These four county office buildings were erected over a period of sixty-three years. They are indicative of the county's development and are an important urban grouping of governmental buildings. The central structure, the Chemung County Courthouse, is an important example of the work of architect Horatio Nelson White, who designed several other courthouses in New York State.
The oldest building of the group, the District Attorney's and Treasurer's Building, was constructed in 1836 as the Chemung County Clerk's Office and was designed to supplement the facilities of the old courthouse and jail. After the new Chemung County Clerk's Office was erected, this building was converted to house the District Attorney. The portico, which was reportedly added in 1899, was designed by Pierce & Bickford.''
The Chemung County Courthouse was begun in 1861 and completed during the following year. A contemporary newspaper account described the building thus:
"The Elmira Court House. — An Elmira correspondent of the Buffalo Courier, says: — Jefferson once said, 'It seems as though the genius of architecture had frowned on America.' — Not so now, for we have distinguished architects who give proper direction to taste in the erection of buildings. On the broad and beautiful avenue, Lake Street, in Elmira, there rises in beauty and grandeur one of the most magnificent edifices in the State. It will reflect honor on the ermine, the county and its architect and builder. With lofty tower it looks as majestic as those castles when barons of old issued forth in defence of 'injured lady love.' We allude to the new Court House; H.N. White architect, and David Wilcox builder, Syracuse. The building is of brick, with entablatures and other decorative parts, of fine limestone. The style is most appropriate — we think the Norman. It covers area of 65 x 90 feet, and resembles in outline the Court House he designed in Syracuse, and one he is erecting in Watertown. — Warming and ventilation have had ample attention, and the main court room will be lighted by invisible gas jets above the ceiling. It contains, elegantly furnished, all the offices and rooms usually needed in a Court House, including water closets, etc. Its cost, when finished and furnished, will be $20,000. A large sum has been subscribed by the intelligent citizens of the county to enlarge the grounds around the building, that its architectural charms may be heightened by rare specimens of the botanical kingdom. There is a remarkable display of judgment, not always combined with high artistic skill, seen in the estimate of Mr. White. — He has furnished designs and superintended the erection of a very large number of public buildings, and not one has ever exceeded in cost the original appropriation."
The Chemung County Clerk's Office, located just south of the Chemung County Courthouse, was erected in 1875 to designs by a Mr. Thomas, who was the superintending builder of the Elmira Reformatory. In 1895 a very large addition, called the Chemung County Court House Annex, was constructed. These two buildings have very similar proportions and detailing and give the impression of being one large building.
Kieffer, James A. "Chemung County Building Department, 1966 Annual Report."
Files of the Chemung County Historical Society.
Report by Paul W. Ivory, Curator and Executive Director, Chemung County Historical Society.