Bates County Courthouse Renovation
Rural Missouri, February 2009
Excerpts from article written by Bob McEowen
Completed in 1902, the Bates County Courthouse was one of four nearly identical
Missouri courthouses, designed by Nebraska architect George McDonald.
Constructed of Carthage marble, it features four distinctive corner towers,
arched entrances and windows and an imposing clock tower, originally topped with
a sculpture of the goddess Columbia, a female figure that represents America.
The courthouse suffered an ignominious fate throughout the years. Lightning
destroyed Columbia. Her truncated base was covered with radio antennas.
Intricate architectural details were lost behind layers of gray paint. The
original catwalk was just a faded memory in the minds of the county's oldest
At a cost of about $1.4 million, the restoration is almost complete.
In 2003, the courthouse was added to the National Register of Historical Places,
joining 38 other Missouri courthouses.
The three other courthouses designed by George McDonald are located in Savannah,
Andrew County, Missouri; Warrensburg, Johnson County, Missouri; and Mount
Vernon, Lawrence County, Missouri.
Although the courthouses differ in material, each of these courthouses have
similar architectural details.
Three statutes originally stood atop the Bates County courthouse.