Beginning with Adair County and ending with Wright County, this new volume presents a survey of the noble buildings that serve as the swelling places for Missouri’s 114 county governments. The richly illustrated pages bring these buildings to life and provide the reader with an insider’s view into many of the not-open-to-the-public areas within the walls of these historic structures.
Missouri’s current courthouses are a diverse collection of designs that demonstrate the architectural preferences of the past two hundred years. Inside, the reader will learn more about the simple wood or brick courthouses that served early pioneer settlements, see the various design choices that were in vogue during Missouri’s gilded age, and observe the shirt in building designs during the twentieth century that eliminated ornate towers and emphasized governmental stability and efficiency. This parade of buildings includes that 1847 Lafayette County – the state’s oldest courthouse that has been in continuous service – and the Miller County courthouse that was dedicated in 2003.
In addition to being a primer of courthouse design choices, this volume touches upon several of the major events that have influenced America’s courthouse construction in Missouri since the Louisiana Purchase. The influx of settlers after the War of 1812 and the achievement of statehood in 1820 quickly made it necessary to segment huge counties into smaller geographic units. Each newly created county needed a courthouse of its own. Prosperous counties with rapidly increasing populations also has to replace their smaller courthouses in order to keep pace with the demands for expanded levels of services. Also, the destruction associated with the Civil War and the coming prosperity of the 1870s spurred a rash of new courthouse construction throughout the state. In the twentieth century, the Works Progress Administration, a Roosevelt-era government agency, used federal funds to encourage courthouse construction in Missouri as a way of providing jobs during with 1930s Depression when more than 20 percent of America’s workers were without paycheck and destitute.
Enjoy Missouri’s 114 county courthouse stories in order, or peruse each building in scattershot fashion. Either way, Missouri Courthouses: Building Memories on the Square is an excellent addition to every Missourian’s reference collection, student bookshelf, or family library.
About the Author
Dennis Weiser earned a B.J. from the University of Missouri – Columbia, and an M.A from Lindenwood University. He worked as a photojournalist with the Rocky Mountain News in Denver before moving into the world corporate communication and marketing. During the 1990s, Mr. Weiser served as the executive director for several non-profit organizations.
Published by the Donning Company Publishers, hardback, 2007. 144 pages. 200 + illustrations.