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Perry County Courthouse

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1827, Jacob Bishop; 1868; 1892; Main and Carlisle sts.
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)

Perry County Courthouse is the provincial counterpart of the red brick and white civic architecture of the nation's first capital, Philadelphia. In 1825, local builder Bishop drew up plans for a brick courthouse forty-five feet square to be constructed on the northeast corner of Main and Carlisle streets. The contract was awarded to John Rice, a builder who had just finished the stone jail. When the courthouse was completed the following year, it had higher walls than planned and a cupola designed by James Duncan on the low hipped roof. In 1868 this unadorned cube was enlarged and embellished with classical appointments derived from Asher Benjamin's model courthouse in American Builders' Companion published in six editions between 1806 and 1827. The red brick courthouses built in Perry, Snyder (SN10), Juniata (JU5), Montour (MT1), and Susquehanna (SQ7) counties are all variations on Benjamin's Greek Revival prototype. In the Perry County interpretation, rusticated quoins and a thick, quarter-round brick stringcourse lift the eye to the white pedimented pavilion above, where pairs of fluted Corinthian columns joined by a balustrade are attached to the second-story front. A long arched window with a keystone surround (found on the Juniata Courthouse in the 1870s) is flanked by rectangular pedimented windows. The ornate cupola is formed like a Corinthian tholos covered by a ribbed copper dome with a finial and fish weathervane, befitting the importance of angling in the county. In 1892, an annex was added to the back of the building.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Perry County Courthouse", [New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 423-424.

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