Blair County Courthouse
The Blair County Courthouse (423 Allegheny St.) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. 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 present Blair County Courthouse (1875) is the second courthouse to be built on the site. The first Blair County Courthouse, a two story brick building built in 1847, in the Greek Revival style, was demolished in 1874. A Philadelphia architect, David S. Gendell was awarded the design contract for the new courthouse. In Gendell's description: "The building is in the modern Gothic style of architecture, with the Italian treatment. This style while it is directly founded upon medieval Gothic omits many of the details of the latter..."
Construction on the Blair County Courthouse was begun in 1875 and completed in 1876. The building is T-shaped in plan. All exterior walls are of stone with cut stone facing. The original color of the stone was a "warm, rich, sunny buff" with "deep peach bloom" stones used as accents in the hood mouldings, string courses and cornices. Weathering and pollution has rendered the stonework a uniform gray. The front portion of the building is 2 stories in height with a steep pitched slate roof. The rear section is also 2 stories with a mansard roof. The main entrance is located in the gable end of the front section. Three sets of double doors are recessed behind 3 pointed arches. The doors are topped by pointed cusped arches with trefoil panels of stained glass. The entranceway is flanked by two square 3 story towers with truncated pyramidal roofs. Windows on the main facade are of pointed arch design, sometimes paired but always recessed and flanked by columns with elaborate water-leaf capitals. The string courses are also highly decorative. The string course above the main entrance features acanthus while those on the towers feature geometric patterns. Set into the apex of the gable is a statue of Blind Justice. Wrought iron balustrades originally ran the length of the roof ridge line. (The balustrades on the roofs of the towers have been removed). Fenestration on the sides of the main section consists of tall pointed arch windows surmounted by cut stone molding. Two small triangular dormers are located in each slope of the roof.
The rear mansard roof section continues the elaborate stonework in window arches, cornices and string courses. The most notable feature of this section is the 5 story clock tower which rises above the intersection point of the T-plan. The tower is topped by a tall stone spire. The 4 faced clock is set in a triangular spaced, topped by a finial and flanked by small ornamental pinnacles. The dormers on the rear section featured pointed arch windows set within stone mouldings supported by small attached columns.
A 3 story addition was added to the rear section in 1906. However, the architect, William Plack, faithfully copied the original material and style making this addition seem an integral part of the original construction.
The Blair County Courthouse is an excellent example of Gothic architecture. Designed by David S. Gendell of Philadelphia, the building illustrates the influence of Frank Furness on his contemporaries.
The general design of the structure as well as the treatment of capitals and columns and use of colored stonework are highly reflective of Furness' style of architecture. The decorative treatment of the building is particularly noteworthy. The building is in fair condition and has not been seriously altered since 1906. Blair County is currently [in 1976] planning a refurbishing and restoration program for the courthouse.
Africa, J. Simpson. The History of Huntingdon and Blair County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia; J.B. Lippincott and Co. 1883.
Blair County Historical Society. Blair County's First Hundred Years 1846-1946. Altoona, Pennsylvania; Mirror Press, 1945.
Blair County Historical Society. Past and Present. Fall, 1961, Vol.#4.