J. A. Wood is almost certainly the Poughkeepsie architect who worked at Vassar (The Riding School and Calisthenium, 1866, now called Avery Hall) and had a career designing public buildings after the Civil War. His design for the courthouse is rooted in midcentury Italianate but overlaid with Second Empire in the mansard, tower details, and the massing, while the High Victorian polychromy and incised ornament are more contemporary—all achieved in a building that was scarcely larger than some mansions. The courthouse effectively terminates the small public square that opens off to the side of Court Street. In County Courthouses of Pennsylvania (2001) historian Oliver Williams recounts the political controversy over its cost and location that link it to many courthouses in Pennsylvania from Philadelphia to Luzerne counties. Here the battle was over both location and cost, extending even to complaints about the $35.00 plaque commemorating the original commissioners that opponents referred to as a “tombstone.” Though the interior has been updated, the courtroom on the second story is largely intact with much of its original wood and metalwork. Across the street in the square is one of the earliest of the state's Civil War monuments that is crowned with a bronze figure of an infantryman standing at rest. This was commissioned by the Ladies Monument Association and completed in 1869.
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Wayne County Courthouse
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