Tuscarawas Courthouse History

On March 15, 1808, Tuscarawas County became the 27th county to be officially recognized by the State of Ohio. Early meetings of the county officials were held in a local tavern and on June 28, 1808, the County Commissioners authorized the building of a two-story structure with a jail on the first floor and county offices on the second. A contract for this log building which also served as a church was given to Peter Minnich for $1,500. It was 30' by 40' and was constructed on lots provided by New Philadelphia founder, John Knisely.

Second Courthouse

In 1818, the county had outgrown the building and the Commissioners advertised for a new building. It was not completed for seven years and the contracts totaled $7,468. When the 1825 Commissioners had financial difficulties, they rented an upstairs room in the building to the Masonic Lodge #59 for $12 per year. The architecture of the building was like that of the original state capital building in Chillicothe. Most of the first floor was used as the courtroom. The Clerk and the Auditor each had one office also on the first floor. The second floor had a separate room for juries. The building was renovated in 1837 after fire damage and the courtroom occupied the entire first floor post renovation.

1882 Courthouse

In 1882, the county's third courthouse was designed by architect Thomas Boyd and built by T.B. Townsend of Zanesville for a contract price of $98,860. Townsend purchased the old building from the county for $900 and used the bricks for fill material for under the new building. On October 25, 1882, the cornerstone was laid after a parade longer than 2 miles which converged on the Public Square. Over 10,000 people attended the cornerstone laying ceremony. The stone for the building was from a quarry in Medina, causing a special railroad track to be built to the site of the Courthouse. The building was 96' by 112' and consisted of 38 rooms on 3 floors and an attic.

This Courthouse was constructed with a dome with a statue of 3 women made from zinc or lead-like metal weighing more than 699 pounds and was 10' wide. It was called the Three Ladies of Justice and had to be removed for safety reasons in 1959. The heads of these ladies are on display in the Commissioners' Board room. Topping the dome today is a cupola which was lifted into place by a helicopter on July 26, 1973. Currently the Courthouse building houses the Common Pleas courtrooms and administrative offices of Judge Edward Emmett O'Farrell, Judge Elizabeth Lehigh Thomakos and Judge Linda Kate. The ground floor houses the County's Law Library and Board of Elections. The Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Buildings.


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