Schuyler County Courthouse
The Schuyler County Courthouse Complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The Schuyler County Courthouse Complex is the main apex of a traditional three building governmental complex. Centrally located in its parcel and graciously set back from the road it is flanked by the Clerk's office on the north and by the Sheriff's residence and jail on the south.
A two-story brick building, the rectangular shaped Schuyler County Courthouse measures 53' x 75'. Built in 1855 on a stone foundation the courthouse has a masonry load-bearing structural system.
One main feature of the structure is the square tower with decorative pediments near both the base and the top and crowned with an ogee roof and weather vane.
Moulded box cornices with returns trim the roof line and are enhanced by corbeled brackets. A triple window with fanlights and a single pedimented head is directly above the main entrance which is flanked by rectangular windows with segmented arches on either side.
Entrance to the Schuyler County Courthouse building is through a small pedimented porch supported by Doric columns. A carved fan is centered in the pediment.
Balance is obtained in the courthouse design by the direct vertical line formed by the five pediments on the front elevation and the symmetrical window arrangements.
The Sheriff's residence is a two-story brick structure with hip roof and cupola. Plain cornices and moulded friezes trim the roofline. Several rectangular windows with stone sills and lintels are regularly spaced throughout. A pedimented porch with Doric columns similar to that of the courthouse forms the main entrance.
A one-story brick building, the Clerk's office is a rectangle measuring 22' x 38'. The structure has a gable roof and plain box cornices. An off-center doorway is beneath a suspended porch. Rectangular windows with stone sills and lintels are present in the building.
Connecting the Schuyler County Courthouse and Clerk's Office is a 137' long two-story brick addition with flat roof built in 1953 and used as Schuyler County office space.
The combination of courthouse, clerk's office and jail, forming the county seat and center of a rural village is becoming a disappearing phenomenon in New York State, but remains well represented in the existence of the Schuyler County Courthouse Complex.
Simple yet elegant architecture is combined with the setting to make the complex aesthetically pleasing as well as a key visual element of the community. The buildings form a nucleated park from which a break in the diverse commercial functions of downtown Watkins Glen can be appreciated. The density and setback are such that they complement the aesthetic qualities of a transition between the commercial district and turn of the century residential living.
Permanent location of the Schuyler County Courthouse in Watkins Glen occurred as the result of a raging twenty year controversy between the northern half of the county favoring Watkins Glen and the southern half favoring Montour Falls.
The Schuyler County Courthouse has been the location of political rallies over the last century and has been in continuous use by county government. Socially the building continues to serve as a community focal point for various activities. Before construction of the Grand Prix course, the Schuyler County Courthouse was the site of colorful racing festivities and served as the Grand Prix driver's meeting place.
Pioneers. Philadelphia: Everts and Ensign, 1879.
Files of New York State Division for Historic Preservation.