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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 1. History
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
The first courthouse in Livingston county was built on lot 5, block 11 in the town of Chillicothe and the work on the structure was begun in October, 1837. The location has been given in former histories about the spot where the new laundry was erected in 19 13, which is now lot 5, block 11, being about one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet north of the present building in which the county officers are located. This error was due to a change made many years ago when the numbers of the lots in block 11 were changed, but for what purpose it is not known. In the year 1837 when the building was ordered erected by the court, lot 5, was the present site of A. M. Shelton's residence on Cooper street. The order made by the court as appears of record, is here given verbatim:
"Ordered that a house be built in town of Chilico for temporary cort house for the county of Livinston to be built buy the forth Mondy in march next or 1838 to be of this discription towit. Eighteen feet from Out to Out to be raised in cabbin form to be flored with Loose plank of punce ons (puncheons) to be well hewn doun in side to be covered with clabords (clapboards) well nailed on - joice to be 7 feet from floor with a good wood or turf chimney with back & Jams as is usual to cabbins & to be well Chinked & daubed to have a door cut out faced up & Shutters made to it. The said Commissioner to let out said house to the Lowest bidder or not to give higher in private contract than Fifty dollars to the undertaker of said house & it is further ordered that said court house be set on lot 5, block eleven."
The structure was a very modest one indeed and was without windows for a period of eighteen months when the court made a provision for them. The furniture in this pioneer courthouse consisted of one table three and one-half by four feet in which was a large drawer also six common wooden chairs. The building was finished and the first county court held a session in it May, 1838. About the time the construction of a new courthouse was under consideration and for a time afterwards, in 1841, this pioneer courthouse was used as a schoolhouse.
The second courthouse was completed November 2, 1841. Its construction was ordered by the county court in August, 1838. The order directed that the contract be let the following November; that the cost should not exceed $5,000, that the contractor might have two years to complete his work. In November, however, the letting of the contract was ordered suspended until March, 1839, but when that time came the court again ordered the postponement of the contract. Old Thomas R. Bryan, the county clerk, and some others claimed that this action of the court was illegal, and moved to appeal the decision to the circuit court, but the motion to appeal wasoverruled. The grounds of the second postponement was lack of funds.
In September, 1839, the court appropriated $4,000 to build the house; in November the plan of the superintendent for the same was received, and he was ordered to receive proposals for the work. In February, 1840, the contract was let to Moses Burton, Esq., of Fayette, Howard county, Messrs. Majors, Garner, Black, Collier and Settle, of that county being his sureties. The contract price was $5,600, of which $1,600 was an additional appropriation. The building was of brick, two stories high, and stood in the center of the public square, in Chillicothe where the new $100,000 courthouse is now under construction. The height of the first story was thirteen feet. At first, all the rooms were warmed by fire-places. The house was painted and had a cupola and was not an unattractive structure. It stood until after the Civil war. Mr. Burton was not paid the cash in full when his work was completed. He was given a warrant for near $4,000, with interest at ten per cent, and this was not paid for some years later.
The walls of the "Kandy Kitchen" and the ladies' furnishing store on the east side of Elm Park, was constructed of the brick taken from the courthouse that was declared unsafe and dismantled soon after the Civil war.