JAY COUNTY COURTHOUSE
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JAY COUNTY COURTHOUSE

The first Courthouse of Jay County was built of logs in 1837 by Robert Huey. The construction of this building, known as "Hickory Hall" cost $123.25.

In 1839 Lewis R. Byrum was contracted to build the walls and roof of a brick courthouse at a cost of $1750. He was to warrant it to be a substantial building for 20 years. William Haines finished the house. Because the walls were poor, it was abandoned in 1859, and sold at auction for $153.

In 1861, a new brick structure was arranged for at a cost of $47,000. This third courthouse, located on the same site as today's building was used from it's completion in 1870 until 1916. The bricks were said to have been molded by David Taylor, a prominent member of the Jay Circuit Court.

The fourth and present Courthouse was begun in 1915 and finished in 1919. The cost was to be $238, 000, but because of World War I and the rising cost in labor and material the final cost was $350,000. The architects were Hulskin and McLaughlin of Lima, Ohio, and The Dawson Construction Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were the contractors.

To protect the building from flooding, thousands of tons of dirt were moved from south of Water Street to build the raised lawn.

The inside framework is steel faced with brick. The outside is covered with Bedford stone, quarried from Bedford, Indiana. The four approaches are made of Bedford stone with brick floors. The four entrances are equipped with brass doors.
The building has 104 windows.

Inside, marble was used throughout the building, including walls, floors and stairways. The railings on the stairways were furnished by the Art Metal Company of Jamestown, New York, and topped by solid mahogany railings. The furniture and trim is made of turned oak, with the Commissioner's room being finished in cherry. The lettering over the various offices was done by Ward Stone with 15 square feet of gold leaf, 22 carat.

Each of the rooms was designed and furnished for the individual County offices, with the auditorium meeting a need which existed in the community.

The dome in the rotunda has a stained glass skylight and four historic paintings. On the west side is a splendid representation of the first pioneers arriving in this county in 1823. A Dutch trader named John Gain and John Brooks, along with his wife Mary and infant daughter Nancy, are shown in a wooded wilderness. On the east side is the first log cabin built in Jay County, Mrs. Peter Studebaker with a babe in arms, and her husband chatting with the Indians. The scene on the north side is of a gathering to honor Jay County men leaving to fight for the freedom of the black man. On the south side, the same brave men are fighting in the Battle of Shiloh, doing the thing for which they enlisted in the Civil War.

In 1969, Husmann's Decorating House redecorated the Courtroom for $5,400. In 1979, they redecorated and refurbished the dome and the first and second floors, using 28 different colors in the murals of the rotunda. This project cost $19,142.

Article compliments of the Jay County Historical Society, Inc.
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