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Allegany County Courthouse

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1893–1894, Wright Butler; 1916, 1925 additions. 27 Washington St.
  • Perspective view of north front and west side
  • Perspective view of north front and east side
  • Perspective detail view of tower and brickwork, north and front facade
  • View looking up to tower, north front facade
  • Interior view of entry hall showing stairway, woodwork, and tile flooring, looking north

The Allegany County Courthouse is one of the major landmarks in Cumberland, once the second largest city in Maryland. The Richardsonian Romanesque structure, built of brick and lavishly ornamented with sandstone trim, is a testament to the prosperity of the city, which served as a major transportation hub and important industrial center in the nineteenth century.

The Courthouse was designed by local architect Wright Butler (1868–1931). The building’s striking tower appears to be an amalgam of those on H.H. Richardson’s Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh and Trinity Church in Boston. While the proportions owe more to the former, the detailing of the slimmed-down corner tower suggests the latter. The strong polychromatic effect created by the brick and stone trim, combined with banded red and gray slate on the roof, reflects Richardson’s early aesthetic approach.

Comparisons to the work of Richardson should not detract from the success of Butler’s design. The rich Romanesque detailing, including the stone entrance surround, is a wonderful expression of the civic pride that characterized late-nineteenth-century America. The interior, with its oak wainscoting, is typical of the period. There appears to be very little in the way of alterations to the core of the original design—the modern doors and glazing under the entrance arch being a notable exception. On the east and west sides of the building, set well back from the north facade, are three-story brick additions made in 1916 and 1925.

References

Andrews, Ronald A., “Two-Hundred-Five Columbia Street,” Cumberland County, Maryland. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1975. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Miller, Nancy, “Washington Street Historic District,” Cumberland County, Maryland. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1972. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Roger G. Reed
Coordinator: 
Lisa P. Davidson
Catherine C. Lavoie
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Data

Timeline

  • 1893

    Built

What's Nearby

Citation

Roger G. Reed, "Allegany County Courthouse", [Cumberland, Maryland], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MD-01-001-0131.

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