WELCOME County Seats & Courthouses: McKean - Potter WELCOME


McKean County, Smethport (pop. 1,680). This map is a recent plain street grid of Smethport, which is one of those small county seats for which few historical maps seem to exist. The courthouse is right along Main Street (US Route 6). The old jail , now the historical society, is directly behind it up on the hill. Most of the northern tier counties like McKean have small populations, little industry, and rely on lumbering and tourists. Smethport is centrally located but is not the largest town in the county, that's the city of Bradford.

The Courthouse (1940). The previous courthouse can be seen in this view , built in 1827 and subsequently enlarged. It was torn down for the present building, which has an involved history. The original front was completed in 1881; wings and a long rear annex were added at different times in the early 20th century. The original front then burned down in 1940, and a new front was built in the Classical Revival style, with the older back and wings incorporated into the new section. The oldest part of the present building is the east wing dating to 1914. The later annex connects by an enclosed hallway, giving the complex the shape of a sideways "H" with a projected portico. The building as it sits today is probably best dated to 1940. The courthouse sits in its own block on a slight hill with a wide stairway approaching the entrance .

Mercer County, Mercer (pop. 2,390). BOROUGH OF MERCER, from Combination Atlas of the county of Mercer and the State of Pennsylvania, G. M. Hopkins, Philadelphia 1873. This map shows the old 1860s courthouse right in the town square, the present one occupies the same site. Mercer sits just off an interstate crossroads (I79 & I80) although one would never know it walking through this tranquil town. Mercer is not the largest town in the county, Sharon, Hermitage and Farrell are small cities, but it is centrally located.

The Courthouse (1909). As with several western counties, the first courthouse was a two story log building with the jail on the ground floor, built around 1804. The first true courthouse went up in 1809 in the town square, two story brick with a cupola and one story wings, shown in this view . This building burned in 1866, and a second courthouse was constructed. This building also burned down in 1907, making way for the present Neoclassic courthouse of 1909 on the same town center site. This is a symmetrical building, north-south and east-west, in brick and stone. The identical long north and south fronts have massive Ionic porticos and the east and west fronts have smaller matching columnar porches . The symmetry even extends to the cupola, which looks the same from four directions. The main entrance is on the north side through the portico and the south side, shown in the photo, has exposed basement entrances (marring the perfect symmetry) because of the hillside location.

Mifflin County, Lewistown (pop. 9,000). LEWISTOWN, from Atlas of Perry, Juniata and Mifflin Counties, Pennsylvania, published by Pomeroy, Whitman & Company, Philadelphia 1877. The map shows the old courthouse sitting along the north side of the town square. The present courthouse is a block away on Wayne Steet located by the red dot. Lewistown lies along the Juniata River where it goes through a narrow gap in the ridge, a strategic location as three major state arteries go through town, US Routes 22, 322, and 522.

The Courthouse (1978). The modern 1978 courthouse, with accompanying jail, occupies an entire block just off the town square in Lewistown. Built in a brick utilitarian style, there is a little wooden tower on top to identify it as the courthouse, which looks rather comical. The only other decorative touch is a recessed entrance behind six arches. The old brick courthouse , built in 1843 in Classical Revival style, sits right on the town square and now houses the county historical society. It has a large portico almost covering the front and a clock tower directly above. A huge chimney juts out of the roof at the back. The rear section of the building, noticable by slightly different brick, was added in 1878.

Monroe County, Stroudsburg (pop. 5,760). STROUDSBURG PENNA., an inset map from Pennsylvania Main-Traveled Routes, American Automobile Association (i.e. AAA) copyright 1913 and 1916. The location of the courthouse on North 7th Street is marked by C.H. on this old AAA map.

The Courthouse (1890). This courthouse sits at the end of a short North 7th Street facing a small square. It is a narrow, but deep, building in a Romanesque style with a center projecting square tower that onced served as the entrance. However, entrance today is through the covered hallway connecting the courthouse to an annex building to the right in the photo. The courthouse was enlarged toward the back in 1933 but it is hard to see where as the same architecture and facing stone was used. One side of the courthouse has two chimneys and two raised gables; the other side was probably symmetric but has been modified to accept the annex connection. This annex is a modern reinforced concrete and glass design.

Montgomery County, Norristown (pop. 31,280). NORRISTOWN, PENNA., shown here on a panoramic map from the Library of Congress by an unknown maker and published by Packard & Butler, Philadelphia 1881. This map, or view, has a circular inset of the old 1850s courthouse at left, whose spire can be seen in the distance of the town view. Montgomery County is adjacent to Philadelphia and a populous place, but it has no cities.

The Courthouse (1902). The facade of the old courthouse , shown in this panoramic map inset, was retained in the present 1902 structure, but everything else was rebuilt and a dome added in place of the tower to complete the Neoclassic look. In 1929 an annex was added at the rear connected along the centerline of the dome by a multistory hallway. It was covered with the same stone as the courthouse and is of roughly similar size, but with more stories and far more floor space. This annex matches so well that the two buildings look contemporaneous, and fresh from a recent cleaning. This is a textbook example of the right way to add an annex to a courthouse. These handsome buildings sit on a landscaped and terraced hill above Main Street with the entrance facing west on Swede Street.

Montour County, Danville (pop. 4,900). PART OF DANVILLE, from Atlas of Columbia and Montour Counties, Penn., published by F. W. Beers in 1876. The atlas contains seven pages of Danville maps, this two-page image is of the downtown adjacent to the Susquehanna River with the present courthouse, as shown on this map, just a block from the bridge over the river.

The Courthouse (1871). This courthouse sits up from the river on a small knob. It is in the Italianate style with long arched windows, brackets under the eaves, quoins along the corners, and most importantly sits today much as originally built. However, the interior renovations have been extensive. There are pediments on all four sides and each side projects from the tower, though the front and back project a little more, giving the building a cruciform shape. Projected stone arches with a ballastrade form a small porch over the entrance. The tower is very attractive with its base repeating the tri-window above the entrance. There are blank window bays on each side of the front, either as decoration or bricked up for interior arrangement reasons. The building sits on an open lot with space around it.

Northampton County, Easton (pop. 26,260). EASTON, PA., WEST EASTON PA WILSON BOROUGH PA ALPHA AND PHILLIPSBURG, N. J., copyright 1944 G. L. Seibel, New York. This map is stamped Montague's Stationary Store, 237 Northampton St., Easton, Pa. Aug 12 1946, and so may be a later printing of a 1944 map. It is a hand drawn and photographically reproduced tourist map with a street gazetteer; only the central downtown area is shown in this view. The courthouse is at the intersection of Walnut and Seventh Street as noted on the map. The present Northampton County Government Center, as it is called, consists of four distinct buildings; the jail, the adjacent courthouse, an annex connected to the back of the courthouse, and a new office building behind the annex fronting on Washington Street.

The Courthouse (1861). The first courthouse was built in 1765 by the colonial government in Centre Square (Third & Northhampton) and torn down in 1861. The present courthouse is several blocks north from the town center atop one of Easton's many hills and the front faces Walnut Street. The oldest part is the center section with portico and tower, built in 1861 in the Classical Revival style. The west wing and a rear section were added in 1887 and the east wing in 1913. In 1921 the west wing was further extended and so is larger than the east. This entire structure is of similar architecture, has been painted white, and appears today as an integrated whole. In 1976 an annex was added to the back and attached to the courthouse by a covered hallway. Currently (2006) an additional large modern building is nearing completion behind the annex which will front onto Washington Street, the next street up the hill from Walnut. This building will likely eventually assume some courthouse functions. The fortress like jail , with the original parts built in 1871, is immediately to the east of the courthouse and still in use.

Northumberland County, Sunbury (pop. 10,610). VIEW FROM BLUE HILL SHOWING NORTHUMBERLAND & SUNBURY, PA. at the junction of the north and west branches of the Susquehanna River, by Ripple Studios, Sunbury, Pa., October 31, 1904. This is a panoramic photograph from the Library of Congress collection showing the forks of the Susquehanna. The photo was taken from what is now called Shikellamy State Park. The town of Northumberland is to the left and Sunbury, in the far distance, to the right. The West Branch of the Susquehanna is coming in on the left and Packers Island lies in the north or main branch coming south. Sunbury is too distant to see individual buildings. The courthouse sits on the west edge of the town square, called Cameron Park, fronting Market Street and a couple blocks in from the river as seen on this street map .

The Courthouse (1864). The old courthouse is shown in this circa 1840 view , the present one is in about the same location. The front section is the original part; a transverse addition, projecting more on one side than on the other, was added in 1915 giving the present building an "L" shape. The original courthouse is a mixture of Italianate and Romanesque Revival styles with projected towers, narrow arched windows, quoins at the corners, and brackets under the eaves. The bell tower is to one side, however there appears to be a base on the roofline for a second tower that was never built. The rear section is more utilitarian, seen today from the different window design, as the entire structure has been painted white with brown trim, giving the building the appearance of an integrated whole. The 1878 jail is a block away.

Perry County, New Bloomfield (pop. 1,080). BLOOMFIELD, from Atlas of Perry, Juniata and Mifflin Counties, Pennsylvania, published by Pomeroy, Whitman & Company, Philadelphia 1877. The town is named just Bloomfield on this map, though the Post Office address is given as New Bloomfield P.O. This usually occurred when another town in the state had already laid claim to the name. So, the town eventually adopted the name of its post office. The present courthouse is shown on the north side of the town square, although the open space around it is now filled with annexes.

The Courthouse (1868). New Bloomfield is a small village in a small valley. The courthouse sits facing the town square and was built in 1868 incorporating some parts of an earlier 1826 building . It is not exactly Classical Revival architecture, but close; columns flank a large arched window over the entrance and are part of a small elevated portico beneath a three stage tower open at the top. There are some nice decorative touches on the front, wall inlays in white stone, small arches over the windows. Modern utilitarian annexes have been built to the rear and right using similar brick.

Philadelphia County, Philadelphia (pop. 1,517,550). PLAN OF PHILADELPHIA, by S. Augustus Mitchell Jr., from Mitchell's New General Atlas, Philadelphia 1860. This map appeared in Mitchell's atlas over several editions. The downtown area is shown here, wards are indicated by the different colors. Penn Square, now completely filled by the City Hall, was then a road and rail crossroads as shown on the map. In 1854 the bounds of the City of Philadelphia were extended to include all of Philadelphia County eliminating county government except for the court system.

The Courthouse (1901). This colossal pile is best seen from the air. Sidewalk photos cannot convey the scale of this building. Designed around 1870 but not completed until 1901, this is the largest city hall in the country and one of the largest masonry buildings (i.e. without steel framing), and serves as both city hall and courthouse. It is a National Historic Landmark, although that doesn't mean much in Philadelphia which has 64 NHLs. The City Hall sits on the central square of the original plan laid out in Thomas Holmes' 1683 map for Philadelphia, and surrounds an interior courtyard accessed by street level entrances on all four sides. Built in a highly decorative Second Empire style, City Hall has an extensive iconography, explained in some detail by Williams. The huge tower faces the north side surmounted by a statue of William Penn designed by Alexander Calder, who designed much of the iconography. (This is the grandfather of Alexander Calder of "mobile" fame.) Until the late twentieth century, when zoning rules were changed to allow skyscrapers, the crown of Penn's hat was the highest point (around 550 feet) in Philadelphia. This building has its own website, Philadelphia City Hall , along with other important Philadelphia buildings, and is either the first or second architecturally most important Pennsylvania courthouse depending upon your point of view (i.e. see Allegheny County). The Old City Hall of Philadelphia stands to the east of the old Pennsylvania State House (today known as Independence Hall); the United States Supreme Court met here until 1800. The old county courthouse stands to the west of Independence Hall; it is now called Congress Hall because the United States Congress met there when Philadelphia was the nation's capitol. Both buildings can be visited on the Independence Hall tour. The old Philadelphia courthouse was built in 1707 and was used until superceded by the Independence Square buildings in the mid 1700s. It stood in the middle of Market with its front on Second Street and was demolished early in the 19th century.

Pike County, Milford (pop. 1,100). This map is from a tourist brochure titled 2006 Guide to the Delaware River Highlands. Milford is a small and historic town next to the Delaware River. The home of Gifford Pinchot is a National Historic Landmark in town. He was a Pennsylvania governor from 1931 to 1935, a United States Secretary of the Interior, and an environmentalist back when such people were called conservationists. He founded the United States Forest Service which now maintains the family mansion, called Grey Towers and shown on the map.

The Courthouse (1874). There are three buildings in a row along East Broad Street in Milford which have some courthouse function. The present courthouse itself was built in 1874 in an Italianate style with a handsome and very noticable window treatment. Two parallel large arched windows hover over two parallel doors in the projecting entrance bay. This window design is repeated in smaller windows along the upper story with similar windows on the ground floor having a flattened arch. The parallel window design extends to the bell tower. A modern small addition, noticable by newer brick, has been added to the rear apparently for easier disabled access. Across High Street sits the original Pike County courthouse built in 1815, and thus one of the older extant courthouses in the state. This is a stone building with a small bell tower that is a later addition, and the obvious jail windows on the right. This old courthouse is now the Sheriff's Office. Farther along the street sits the modern Administration Building , completed in 1985, but built in true courthouse style. The projected front has a prominent Palladian window and above is the bell tower.

Potter County, Coudersport (pop. 2,650). This map is an inset on a 2005 tourist brochure titled Welcome to Potter County. The courthouse is prominently displayed on the map, at the corner of Main and Second. Farther up Main Street, and dominating the town, is a large modern building that looks like it should be the courthouse, but isn't. It's the former headquarters of the Adelphia Corporation, a TV cable company which went bankrupt, reorganized, and moved out of town. The building looks like it would make an excellent courthouse if the county ever needs a bigger one.

The Courthouse (1888). The present building dates from 1888 (see the decorative lunette under the front roof peak) incorporating a smaller 1835 structure. The overall style is Italianate with a flat front, long windows, and prominent brackets under the eaves. There is a small gable built into the roof on either side. The brick is painted white with green trim and a green tower. Lady Justice stands atop the bell and clock tower; and the courthouse sits on a small block with the front directly on the sidewalk.

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