Gazette newspaper hopes York County Commissioners will “…guard against extravagance” in new courthouse.
Lewis Miller drawing of the new courthouse, 1839.
I recently wrote about a thief stealing the copper spouting off the York County courthouse in 1874. That was the York County’s second courthouse, completed in 1840.
Click here to read about the spouting heist.
York County residents, as always, had plenty of opinions where that new courthouse should be and kept a keen eye on the cost. The first courthouse, the one in which Continental Congress met, had to go, they said, because it sat in the middle of Center Square, and traffic was picking up.
I’ll tell you more about the cost of the 1840 building itself in a future post, but for now, I’ll quote the Gazette editorial of February 13, 1838 when, after much wrangling, a site was finally chosen:
“The New Court House
On Saturday last the Commissioners of this county selected a site for the new Courthouse. They fixed upon and purchased a piece of ground on the South side of Main [Market] street, between George and Duke streets…. It is to be hoped, that while they guard against extravagance, they will put up a building worthy of this wealthy and populous county.
The ground…has a front of 80 feet on Main street, by 230 feet to a 20 feet alley. This ground cost $8000; and the commissioners have secured the privilege to taking, it they should require it, all the ground between Chas Welsh’s tavern and the house of Henry Smyser, (which world give them in all 100 feet front by 230 deep,) for an additional $2000. We hope they will not hesitate in taking the additional 20 feet front–for it does appear to us that 80 feet will not allow them to leave sufficient space on each side, after putting up such a building as the business of our county would seem to require.”
The third courthouse, now the York County Administrative Center, replaced the second courthouse, on the same site, in 1900. Now we have no “courthouse” but instead a very expensive Judicial Center. We certainly didn’t heritage to “…put up a building worthy of this wealthy and populous county” this time. At least we didn’t tear down the grand old building, although there were some copper-clad dormers removed that I think should have stayed in place.