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August 21, 2013

Aug. 21, 2013: Letters to the editor

Tipton Courthouse designed to last

In February 1888, nearly 1,000 residents of Tipton County signed a petition requesting the county commissioners begin the process of planning and building a new courthouse to replace the outmoded brick building. The commissioners were soon besieged by all manner of architects, draftsmen and contractors.

Then one of the commissioners took charge and stated that what was wanted for the people of Tipton County was a courthouse that would serve them for 100 years. This commissioner then proceeded to dismiss all of the competitors and select a man well-qualified for the job — his friend, Indianapolis architect Adolph Scherrer, designer of the Indiana state capitol building.

If any mistakes were made, this commissioner would take responsibility for them.

But when the new courthouse was completed, not one error was made in its construction. Jacob G. Off, a native of Germany and a prominent Tipton County farmer since 1865, was the county commissioner whose 100-year vision has now been realized, even exceeded.

The very first courthouse in Tipton County was a 24-foot by 20-foot, two-story building built of hewn logs, and finished inside for a cost of $473.50. This building burned in 1857, and a new two-story brick building was planned to replace it. The site would be where the present courthouse now stands, having first been cleared of stumps and brush by James Cassler for $13.12.

The original cost projected for this building was $10,000, and work was begun in June 1858. But at its completion in 1859, the amount had grown to $15,000. This brick courthouse served until 1892, when plans for the present building were begun.

Before construction could begin there was considerable debate over whether to retain a pretty grove of maple trees that had been planted around the old brick courthouse. The issue was resolved, under questionable circumstances, when someone slipped in and hacked away the bark, deadening the trees and making their removal a necessity.

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