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Lawrence County Courthouse


The Lawrence County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Lawrence County Courthouse is located on a small rise at the intersection of Court Street and County Line Street. The original Lawrence County Courthouse is a two story Greek Revival structure with a six Ionic column portico and cupola and was built in 1850-55. This original section is six bays by three bays with the windows set between full two-story flat pilasters. The windows were originally 12-over-12 with shutters but have been altered to 2-over-2 or 1-over-1. Heavy dentils line the cornice and pediment. The dome located behind the front pediment was removed in 1951 when it was found to be structurally unsound.

There have been three additions made to the Lawrence County Courthouse. In 1885-6 a two-story wing was added to the south elevation even with the front facade. This addition, as the later two, were made using similar building materials and style. In circa 1914 an addition was added to the rear of the south facade; it was latter extended in 1939. The third addition was made in 1943-44 to the north facade opposite the 1939 addition. This gives the courthouse a T-shaped floor plan. In 1947 a small addition was made between the 1885-6 and the 1914-36 additions. Although altered by numerous, additions, the Lawrence County Courthouse retains its Greek Revival character and style.

Significance

Lawrence became a county on March 20,1849 from parts of Mercer and Beaver Counties. The smallest county in western Pennsylvania with an area of 367 square miles it is located on the Pennsylvania and Ohio border. This land area located around the confluence of three rivers, the Shenango, Mahoning and Beaver was named for the famous U.S. Navy captain, Captain James Lawrence.

First settlement in the area began circa 1798 following early Indian troubles and some attempts at missionary work. New Castle, the county seat, is situated in the geographical center of the county. New Castle was laid out on fifty acres in 1802 by John C. Stewart and named after his home in New Castle, Delaware. In 1825 it was incorporated and became the county seat in 1849. New Castle became on important center of county operations and a trade center. The canals between Pittsburgh and Erie and Youngstown, Ohio passed through New Castle.

Following some competition for land to be used as the Lawrence County Courthouse site, the county commissioners selected a 300' by 140' lot. A contract for construction was let in August, 1850 to James M. Craig and William Hamilton for $12,004.00. Work on the Lawrence County Courthouse began in the Fall of 1850 and was completed in 1852. The plans for the courthouse were changed during its construction to include a portico with fluted columns bringing the total cost to about $32,000.00.

The original Lawrence County Courthouse was a two-story stone structure six bays by four bays with a square tower and cupola. A six Ionic column portico ran the total length of the front entrance. Full height pilasters are located between the windows on the sides and rear facades. Windows were twelve-over-twelve. The original Lawrence County Courthouse has been enlarged by three major additions, in 1885, 1914, and 1944. The cupola was found to be structurally unsound and was removed in 1951.

Abstract: The Lawrence Comity Courthouse is a fine example of a Greek Revival public structure. Although altered from the original it still maintains its classical elegance. As the center for county governmental services it has political and governmental significance for Lawrence County.

References

Durant, S.W. History of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: L.H. Evert, Company 1877, p.31.

Hazen, Aaron L. 20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County. Chicago: Richmond-Arnold Publishing Company, 1908.

  1. Susan M. Zacher, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, Lawrence County Courthouse, nomination document, 1978, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Lawrence County Courthouse Map

Street Names
Court Street

**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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