Fayette County Courthouse, Washington Court House, Ohio

The Fayette County Courthouse is one of the more impressive that I have seen in America, and it is well preserved and maintained. Opened in 1885, it was built between 1882-1884.

It is built in what I might call a late Italianate, Second Empire hybrid style which defies easy categorization, as is so common in public architecture after the Civil War.

There is even a video about the history of the courthouse, which you can watch here.

One of my favorite aspects of this building is the lack of an ugly Twentieth Century addition sticking out of the back or side of the courthouse, which scars so many august edifices across this country.

Apparently I failed to take a photograph of the door with the bullet holes in it from the failed attempt of the lynch mob being repelled by Ohio militiamen.

It’s cornerstones like these that make my job really, really easy.

I’m pretty sure this is sandstone so that last word in the bottom register below is “contractors.”

The tower and the pediment is quite impressive. Not pictured is another that said “Pro Bonam Publicae,” which is Latin for “the public good.”

This inscription means, “Let there be justice, [even if] the heavens may fall.” It has ancient Roman origins, which are not terribly positive, but Romantic Era English writers gave it a positive spin.

In classic Italianate era architecture, the columns are far too skinny in proportion to the massive pediment that they hold up. Obviously, from a structural standpoint they are sufficient, but compositionally they are ridiculouis.

The central clocktower has a statue of Justitia, though she has lost her scales of justice and her sword has bent. I cannot even tell if she has a blindfold over her eyes.

The clocks are all working and were telling the correct time I was visiting the town.

I suspect the tower is sheathed in pressed tin or another type of metal.

Of other interest are the grotesques sculpted into the lower portions of the building. If you look at the one mask below, I believe that is the old European figure of the Green Man, which you can read about here.

I have some possible identifications for the portraits in the roundels.

First of all, I suspect these two might represent Vertumnus and Pomona, which is a famous classical myth. As you can see below, Vertumnus is represented with a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables around him, befitting his role as god of the seasons. The famous depiction of the Emperor Rudolf II as Vertumnus illustrates that, as well.

This is perhaps the head of Medusa, which is a Gorgoneion, a symbol of protection. I believe you can see her hair of snakes writhing around her head.

This head below, however, eludes my identification.

There are several monuments in the courthouse square lawn.

Oops, I forgot what this monument commemorates.

This one below is obviously a veterans memorial for World War I.

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