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Putnam County Courthouse

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1899–1902, Frank Pierce Milburn; 1946; 1996, Putnam County Judicial Building, ZMM. South side of Court St. on axis with Main St.

Putnam County's first courthouse was begun in 1848 and finished in 1850. Although Milburn prepared plans for a replacement in 1895, it was not until a windstorm destroyed the first building in 1899 that a new courthouse became mandatory. Built with brick from the first structure, the rectangular building has projecting octagonal towers capped with pyramidal roofs anchoring each corner. The tallest of the four, to the right of the entrance, terminates in a belfry. Rock-faced sandstone voussoirs outline the round-arched entry and window at the center of the facade. Along with a small but rugged stone entry porch, these contribute to the building's Romanesque Revival appearance.

In 1903 Milburn published a promotional booklet showing a perspective rendering of a building labeled “County Court House.” The caption noted that he had used the generic design in six courthouses, including those at Hinton (Summers County) and Winfield. Milburn listed costs of courthouses built from the plan as ranging from $15,000 to $20,000, but county records indicate the Putnam commissioners spent only $11,000.

Rear additions date from 1946, and a new judicial building housing a courtroom and offices was built at the rear of the property in 1996. Nicely compatible with the older structure, it is faced with red brick and trimmed with a modest amount of stone. Its central entrance pavilion, capped by a pyramidal roof, projects from flat-roofed sides that step down and recede. Though it has no specific design references to Milburn's work, the new building reverberates as a quiet postmodern echo of the older one. Unfortunately, a sea of asphalt separates the two buildings.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.


What's Nearby


S. Allen Chambers Jr., "Putnam County Courthouse", [Winfield, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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