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Washington County Courthouse and Jail

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1898–1900, Frederick J. Osterling. Main and W. Beau sts.
  • (William E. Fischer, Jr.)
  • (William E. Fischer, Jr.)
  • (William E. Fischer, Jr.)
  • (William E. Fischer, Jr.)

One of Frederick Osterling's most impressive designs, this courthouse admirably represents the beauty and dignity of the law. The exterior, of cut Columbian sandstone with South Carolina granite trim, is adorned with thirty-six-foot-tall Ionic columns supporting porticoes on each elevation. The porticoes are rectangular on the side elevations and rounded on the facade. Smaller domes flank a central dome, which is topped with an eighteen-foot cast-bronze statue of George Washington. The original terra-cotta statue was decapitated by a lightning strike; lightning rods protect this statue from its predecessor's fate. The courthouse's interior has a central lobby and staircase lit by a grand dome lined with stained glass in golden hues. Beautifully restored foliate-patterned murals highlight the pendentives. Marble columns and florid iron railings add to the grandeur. The three courtrooms on the second story are also restored, and each echoes the lobby with smaller, circular stained glass skylights.

The jail, behind the courthouse, is a suave rendition of Richardsonian Romanesque, surmounted by a hexagonal lantern with an open arched colonnade above its cruciform plan.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Washington County Courthouse and Jail", [Washington, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 278-278.

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