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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kenosha County Courthouse - Prevent The Wrong

I thought I'd start off with a neat postcard image I found on

This is how the courthouse looked on the foggy day I stopped in. Across the top of the building the carved words read "Erected by the People of Kenosha County to the Cause of Just and Capable Government".  It's a big building; Kenosha is the fourth largest city in Wisconsin, dontcha know.

Constructed of gray Indiana limestone in 1925, the three-story courthouse has a raised basement on a pedestal and the first floor is divided from the upper floors by a cornice that runs the length of the building. The second and third stories are recessed behind a colonnade of 18 free-standing colossal Ionic columns.

Behind the courthouse is the three-story jail of the same material as the courthouse and connected to it by an underground passage. When I entered the main lobby the first thing I noticed was the abundance of natural light due to the glass ceiling, and the layers of painted ornamentation at every level.

The mural at the top of the Grand Stairway is titled "In Memoriam".  It looks like it needs some restoration work done, its very dark and hard to make out the details.  The figure represents the State in mourning for her dead, other figures are wounded soldiers and orphans.  The figure on the extreme right represents the Red Cross with a dead child on her lap.  The mural was painted by William De Leftwich-Dodge.

In the Grand Stairway the iron balustrade is treated with polychrome inlaid with gold-leaf and Botticino marble is used extensively throughout the building.

Just inside the entrance on either side on the second floor are murals over the court doors.  I somehow deleted the first one which is titled "Uphold the Right". The one below is titled "Prevent the Wrong" and its images represent "Mercy" and "Force".

There are apparently murals in the court rooms as well, but I was not allowed to enter and photograph any of the rooms.  I was also instructed not to get people in my photos for privacy reasons.  There was a lot going on in the corridors and of course I got a lot of looks with my camera.  I made sure to keep my nose out of everyone's business and keep my eyes focused upward to alleviate any concerns about my presence.  Usually when I go into the courthouses they are not so busy.  

Another cool historical photo of  Dedication Day below.  History is neat!  I got it from University of Wisconsin Digital Collections website, along with most of the information in this post. Modern day internet access is pretty neat too. We lived in Kenosha for 6 years, about a mile from the courthouse, and in the county for the last 9 years.  It's been fun to go back to places I barely glanced at before and try to see them with new eyes.  Check out your local history and see what you've been missing as you walk by familiar places.

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  1. I see what you mean about the murals being dark and not easy to make out. They were probably impressive when first done. Shame about not being able to go in the courtrooms to look

  2. That building has a beautiful interior. So much history!

  3. "History is neat!" That was the best part of this post. I smiled at that. I bet you were a history geek in school too. That's okay, I was too but didn't overtly show it. Maybe more like a closet history geek.

    1. Actually, John, History in school was a drag. Textbooks are boring! I did like historical fiction. My teachers didn't appreciate me sitting in the back reading while they lectured too much. However, I didn't let that stop me. I try real hard not to sound like them or the textbooks when I write these posts. When we homeschooled I banned textbooks and made my kids read real books to get the full picture of whatever topic we decided to investigate.