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Sullivan County Courthouse


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

Description

The Sullivan County Courthouse was designed by Wagner & Reitmeyer, architects, and was constructed in 1894 by Lawrence Brothers Builders. The building is located on the southeast corner of the town square in Laporte and is surrounded by beautiful, mature Lombardy Poplar trees. A large public park is located directly across the street from the north entrance to the courthouse.

The Sullivan County Courthouse is two stories high with a full basement and has a four-story bell tower that is visually prominent from the surrounding countryside. The primary exterior building material is a medium range red brick with a limited amount of cut stone incorporated into the elevations through foundation walls, window accents, and site walls. The brickwork is generally of a running bond pattern; however, detailed articulation is evident at the window and doorways and on the bell tower. The wood double-hung windows have arched heads or transoms. The wood entrance doors have heavy wood frames and arched transoms above. The building has a centrally located brick chimney which has minimal visual impact on the building exterior.

The original slate roof has been replaced with gray asphalt composition roofing shingles. The building's structure is of heavy wood frame carried by 1"-6" thick load bearing masonry walls. The building plan is basically rectangular with a projection on the south side containing the old county jail. Overall building size is approximately 92' x 60', and the jail projection is approximately 28' square. The first floor plan consists of a cruciform corridor providing access to the building from three directions. Key county offices flank the four corners of the corridors providing excellent public access. The jail and the sheriff's apartment are isolated from the public areas. The second floor contains a large courtroom (50' x 60') with judge's chambers and a series of small related offices.

The interior of the Sullivan County Courthouse includes a heavy wooden monumental stair and the original wood wainscoting and plaster walls. The courtroom contains the original public seating benches, jury box, and judge's alcove.

The building is structurally sound and in good repair. The exterior masonry work is in good condition and all windows are as originally constructed. The interior planning and room finishes are basically unchanged, with the exception of new suspended ceilings and carpeting in some areas.

The Sullivan County Courthouse is an excellent example of rural courthouse architecture in Pennsylvania. The design is Romanesque in style; however, there is an obvious simplicity and straightforwardness that reflects the region and its people, successfully blending the large formal building with the small town and wilderness that surrounds it.

Additions and alterations to the original building include the following:

1935-Construction of a new registers and recorder's vault and minor repartitioning.

1962-Replacement of the original slate roof with asphalt composition shingles.

1969-Construction of a small annex and connection link adjacent to the south side of the courthouse.

1973-Interior renovations require to install emergency lighting.

1977-Updating and improvement of the heating system.

Significance

The Sullivan County Courthouse is an excellent example of late 19th century Romanesque courthouse architecture in America. It remains the most important and prominent building in Sullivan County as it has been for the past 83 years. The building houses the smallest county seat in Pennsylvania and because of the elevation of Laporte, the highest county seat in Pennsylvania.

  1. Crabtree, Thomas C., Sullivan County Courthouse, nomination document, 1978, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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