For those of us who travel the state frequently, itâ€™s no secret the our county courthouses and their adjacent squares exhibit some of the best architectureÂ in the Midwest. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the county seats in all 92 counties constructed some of the most magnificent monuments to the local rule of law. Of the 92 counties, over 80 have retained their historic courthouses, the rest having been lost to natural disasters, or neglect.
Recognizing their symbolic and cultural importance, some communities have retained their original historic structures (such as St. Joseph County) and built new buildings to accommodate their needs. Other communities (like Perry County) built new courthouses as the moved county seats; first from Rome, then to Cannelton, and finally to Tell City. There is a courthouse in each of these communities, but only one serves as the official seat of government.
In 2008, Governor Mitch Daniels signed Senate Bill 176, which created the Indiana Courthouse Preservation Advisory Committee. In 2011, they published this report.
In the report, the committee found that the county courthouses serve as part of Indianaâ€™s symbolic identity, that the courthouses can serve as a component of state tourism, and that the squares can be part of local community development.
In 2013, I received a grant from Ball State University to photograph all 92 Indianaâ€™s historic county courthouses and their adjacent squares. Iâ€™ve included a photo of each courthouse below, but if you are interested in seeing the full set with more information, visit: indianacourthousesquare.org.