|WELCOME||County Seats & Courthouses: Cambria - Cumberland||WELCOME|
(pop. 3,090). EBENSBURG,
from Illustrated Historical Combination Atlas of
Cambria County Pennsylvania, J. A. Caldwell,
published by Atlas Publishing Company, Philadelphia 1890.
Ebensburg is a small town in the center of the county.
The courthouse sits a block off the main crossroads and
the building shown on this map is prior to enlargement
around 1920. Ebensburg and Johnstown were founded around
the same time, circa 1795, but Johnstown grew more
rapidly because of its river location and subsequent
industry and became a city. Ebensburg, with its central
location, has always been the county seat. Portions of
the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Landmark
are just east and south of Ebensburg.
The Courthouse (1923). The first courthouse was built in 1808 with the ground floor serving as the jail. A new courthouse was built in 1830 at the current site and subsequently demolished for the present building. The center section was built around 1880; however, in the early 1920s the structure was completely rebuilt with left, right, and rear wings added, so it is best dated to this period. Restoration work was done in the 1990's, including the elaborate double ramp at the front for the disabled. There are no attached additions or annexes, probably because the population of the county has remained static. It also lacks a tower removed during the rebuilding; the bell sits in front of the entrance . The appearance of the tower can be seen in this view of the courthouse before rebuilding from the 1890 county atlas. The structure is brick and stone in the French Second Empire style and notable for the extensive stone trim for story separation, window decoration, and quoins at the corners. This courthouse is especially impressive when viewed approaching Ebensburg from the east on Route 22, looming up atop the hill like a medieval fortress over a village. And speaking of fortresses, the old county jail , circa 1870s, sits two blocks away and is now the county archives building.
(pop. 2,530). This
is a circa 1870 woodcut town view of Emporium taken from
Egle looking west to east. The old courthouse is shown on
the hillside a block up from the main street; the present
building sits in the same spot. Emporium would certainly
place on a list of out-of-the-way county seats. It is one
of only two boroughs in the county, the other is
Driftwood. In colonial times, it was the southern
endpoint for an important portage that ran twenty odd
miles over the hills from Sinnemahoning Creek to the
The Courthouse (1890). The present courthouse, begun in 1890, incorporates the previous 1861 building shown on the map. Entry is through three large Romanesque arches in front. There are some nice touches to this building, the projected tower, the Victorian octagon, and the arched windows. The section on the right is a modern (circa 2000) addition, noticable by the newer red brick and utilitarian construction. The courthouse sits on a spacious hillside lot with several war memorials.
(pop. 4,800). MAUCH CHUNK from Flagstaff No. 555,
by William Herman Rau, January 21, 1896. This is a
panoramic photo from the Library of Congress collection
looking west or upstream along the Lehigh River. Jim
Thorpe originally was called Mauch Chunk from an old
Indian phrase, and how it got to be Jim Thorpe is a
rather tawdry tale involving a famous corpse of that name.
The courthouse sits near the Lehigh River on a flat spot,
the rest of the town winds up the valley behind the hill
on the left in this photo, as shown in this old
. This conventional
is from a tourist brochure
titled Jim Thorpe and surrounding area 2006-07
Visitors' Guide. A newer
of town is on the other side
of the river, to the right in the photo. The borough of
Jim Thorpe has two National Historic Landmarks, the Asa
Packer Mansion and Saint Marks Episcopal Church.
The Courthouse (1893). Carbon County was founded in 1843 and the first courthouse was typical mid-century Classical Revival style. The present 1893 building occupies a narrow corner lot at the end of the main drag near the river, and is in the Romanesque style with arched stone-trimmed windows and a large square projecting tower. It is deeper than wide and "L" shaped, with an (unseen) 20th century addition extending behind the adjoining building. Built in very dark reddish stone, this courthouse has a couple small side gables and another arched entrance at the rear next to an 1886 veterans memorial.
(pop. 6,400). BELLEFONTE,
from Atlas of Centre County, Pennsylvania published
by A. Pomeroy & Co., Philadelphia, 1874. "Beautiful
Fountain" refers to a large spring in the center of
town. Bellefonte, perhaps along with Milesburg, was the
largest town in the county for a long while before
eclipsed by State College and the exploding Penn State
University. It has the distinction of being the town
closest to the state's geographical center, hence the
county name complete with British spelling. The
courthouse sits at the head of the main street as shown
on the map. The open area behind it is now occupied by
later annex buildings.
The Courthouse (1855). A two story limestone structure was the first courthouse, constructed in 1805 at the present site. Brick wings were added in 1811 and the Classical Revival portico in 1835. However, in 1855 the entire structure behind the portico and front facade was torn down and the present building put up. To the rear are later additions. The courthouse sits at the head of the main drag in Bellefonte, which itself is lined with fine old buildings. A bell tower with a clock face sits over the portico, standard for the classical style in courthouses, but out of place for a Greek temple obviously. In the days before telephones, the bell called the court to session. The statue in front is of Civil War governor Andrew Curtin.
(pop. 17,860). This
small scale street map of West Chester is a section from
SMITH'S NEW MAP OF PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY, published
by J. L. Smith, 27 South Sixth St. Philadelphia 1881. It
is a pocket map printed on two sheets, each 27 x 22
inches, then backed with linen and pasted into a 6 x 4
inch brown hardback cover with the western sheet,
containing West Chester, on the front cover and the
eastern sheet on the back cover. The streets on this grid
are unnamed, but the courthouse is located at High &
Market. West Chester is the home of West Chester
University, one of the schools in the State System of
Higher Education, and called State Normal School on this
map. West Chester is a borough, the only city in the
county is Coatesville.
The Courthouse (1846). The old courthouse can be seen on the left in this circa 1840 view. The present courthouse is one of the better known in the state, mostly because the original part is the work of a famous architect, Thomas U. Walter, who later became architect of the United States Capitol and whose major buildings, such as this one, were in the classical style. But known also for the preposterous tower that caps this otherwise handsome Classical Revival building. The Walter part (a circa 1875 view ) dates to 1846. In 1892 a transverse addition at the rear gave the building a "T" shape. This addition is not quite harmonious. The windows look different, the roof line does not match, and the stone is a shade whiter. In 1964 an annex was attached to the northern side of this addition, to the right in the photo. A new and very large Justice Center is currently (2006) under construction and will assume most courthouse functions for this populous county, although the Walter courthouse will survive. The prominent statue in front is a generic memorial to "Old Glory", i.e. the flag, leaving room for interpretation of the figure. One possibility is that it represents any of a multitude of politicians wrapping himself in the flag just before election.
(pop. 6,190). MAP
OF CLARION BOROUGH CLARION TWP., from Caldwell's
Illustrated Historical Combination Atlas of Clarion Co.
Pennsylvania, by J. A. Caldwell 1877, engraved,
lithographed & printed by Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh. The
courthouse sits adjacent to the Public Square on Main
Steet, how more classic can you get. The building shown
on the map is the old courthouse. Clarion lies on a
plateau above the Clarion River, the largest relatively
unharmed and unpolluted river in the state. It flows into
the Allegheny. The town is the home of Clarion University,
one of the state universities, whose grounds lie to the
east of downtown.
The Courthouse (1884). The first courthouse was built in 1843 at the present site. It burned down and the second building, shown in this view from the county atlas, put up. It also burned down and was replaced in 1884 by the present brick structure with the huge tower, over 200 feet high, dominating the downtown. The architectural style of this building has been called Queen Anne, a term used to define an asymmetric decorative style with long windows and steeply pitched irregular and intersecting roofs. Although, given the huge square tower and narrow windows, Romanesque Revival would fit as well. Entrance is through the front under "Lady Justice" with her scales atop the tower. Just behind the courthouse is a quaint, old jail built in 1874 and directly across the street is the park.
(pop. 6,630). CLEARFIELD,
CLEARFIELD COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA, 1895, drawn by T. M.
Fowler, Morrisville, Pa., published by T. M. Fowler &
James B. Moyer. This is a town view, or panoramic map,
from the Library of Congress. The present courthouse is
shown, much as it looks today. Three blocks north, to the
left on the map, lies the old jail next to the river, the
West Branch of the Susquehanna. In the nineteenth and
early twentieth century Clearfield was a major logging
center where large rafts of logs assembled for journeys
down the Susquehanna. Dubois is the only city in the
county and a somewhat bigger town than Clearfield.
The Courthouse (1862). The original courthouse, the building at right with belfry in this old view , was built in 1815 and replaced by the present structure in 1862, which occupies a narrow building lot on a street corner. A wider addition was made to the rear in 1884, noticable by different brick, giving the present building a very slight "T" shape. The overall design is rather eclectic, with no definite style. The flattop tower projects from the front and is open at the bottom to form a porch for the entrance. The large stele in front of the tower contains the Ten Commandments. The other notable feature is the use of gables on all sides. The addition of 1884 repeats the original side gable giving the present double side gable look. An annex in the back is connected to the courthouse by a second story covered walkway. The old jail , built in 1872 and a couple blocks away along the river, still survives and is occupied by a local business.
(pop. 9,150). This lightly printed map of
central Lock Haven is from a tourist brochure titled Welcome
to Lock Haven Pennsylvania. Lock Haven seems to be
one of those towns with few old maps. The courthouse is
next to the bridge over the West Branch of the
Susquehanna. As the name implies the city of Lock Haven
was originally a stop for canal boats. Today, it is
probably best known for Lock Haven University, one of the
schools in the state system, and to the north and west of
the downtown area shown on the map.
The Courthouse (1869). The county was created in 1839 and the first courthouse is prominent in this circa 1840 view. The greatly elongated arched windows marching completely around the structure are the most striking feature of the present Romanesque Revival courthouse. The towers are the same basic design but one is higher with a clock midsection. This seems like a last minute addition, however the Venango County courthouse has the same arrangement by the same architects. The rear section was added in 1936 and gives the building a "T" shape. It matches the original building very well, and today the whole structure is painted to give it an integrated appearance. The rock in the photo is a memorial.
(pop. 12,380). BLOOMSBURG
TOWN OF BLOOMSBURG, from Atlas of Columbia and
Montour Counties, Penn., published by F. W. Beers in
1876. Bloomsburg is covered with two large three panel
foldout maps in this atlas. This view is the section
showing the courthouse, just off the main intersection on
Second Street. Bloomsburg is unique as the only Pennsylvania municipality classified as a town; all others are either cities or boroughs. It is home to Bloomsburg
University, one of the state schools, and called a State
Normal School (to the right) when this map was made. When
entering town along Second Street, the imposing building
straight ahead with the white tower is not the courthouse,
but a university building.
The Courthouse (1890). The core of this courthouse was constructed in 1848; an addition was added to the rear in 1868 giving this circa 1875 appearance . In 1890 a major reconstruction and addition to the front in the Romanesque Revival style yielded the present building, called the second courthouse. The Romanesque front consists of three sections, a projecting bay at right, a large square tower, and a half octagon at left. There is a small porch over the entrance. The oldest section behind the front has narrow windows with raised separating brick work. The rear section is small and utilitarian in a different brick.
(pop. 13,690). MAP
OF THE CITY OF MEADVILLE, from New Historical Atlas of
Crawford Co. Pennsylvania Illustrated by Everts,
Ensign & Everts, Philadelphia 1876. This map shows
only half the town, with the courthouse toward the bottom
adjacent to the town square, called the Diamond. The
building shown would be the old 1869 courthouse. In
addition to the courthouse, there are an unusual number
of churches around the square, four or five, giving the (undoubtedly
unintended) impression of a community in need of
redemption. Allegheny College, whose grounds are shown at
the top of the map, is the oldest college under the same
name west of the Alleghenies, founded in 1815. The
University of Pittsburgh is older, but has undergone a
couple of name changes. There is one other city in the
The Courthouse (1952). The old courthouse can be seen in this circa 1840 view, and stood on the site of the present one. The previous courthouse , finished in 1869, can be seen in this view from the atlas. It was unfortunately totally rebuilt in 1952 with the present Neoclassic look. If preserved, it would have been one of the earliest public buildings of Second Empire style architecture, and hence more noteworthy than the present structure. According to one of the reliefs adjacent to the entrance doors, the rebuilding incorporated the previous courthouse. The present building is certainly acceptable, built in red brick and stone with a large entrance portico between projecting wings, and a clock tower above.
(pop. 17,970). BOROUGH
OF CARLISLE, from Atlas of Cumberland Co.,
Pennsylvania, published by F. W. Beers & Co.,
New York, 1872. Only the main downtown area is shown in
this view of Carlisle. The old courthouse is marked at
the intersection of Hanover and Main. Just across the
street is a Market, now the site of the new courthouse.
Today Carlisle is best known as the location of the Army
War College and Dickinson College. The Carlisle Indian
School is a National Historic Landmark, whose most famous
graduate was Jim Thorpe (see Carbon County).
The Courthouse (1961). Cumberland County was founded in 1749. The first courts were held in 1750 in the Widow Piper Tavern , still standing in Shippensburg. The seat was moved to the more central Carlisle, where two courthouses face one another across Hanover Street. The old courthouse is a two story Classical Revival brick building with portico and clock tower built in 1846, and is still used for county offices. It replaced a still older building shown on the left in this circa 1840 view . The newer building of 1960s vintage is four story brick utilitarian style, with four columns in front to make it look like a courthouse. The courtrooms are all on the fourth floor which has larger windows.
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