Morgan County Courthouse, Jacksonville, Illinois

The Morgan County Courthouse is a massive pile of Second Empire goodness, sitting not in the middle of the nearby Central Park, but tucked away rather unobtrusively on a street radiating out from the square.

Designed by J.B. Randal of Chicago in 1867, it was completed in 1869. The stone comes from Joliet, which makes sense because it seems to be of a similar color as the famous prison in that city.

It’s an interesting composition in its picturesque asymmetrical composition. The Second Empire is normally known for its strict symmetry, particularly in public buildings such as the Old Post Office in St. Louis.

But the two towers that flank the central portal possess different massings, and are of dramatic different breadths and heights.

It’s still a very beautiful building, and is not scarred by a late Twentieth addition out the back or side. It is interesting to compare it to the former Federal Building in Hannibal and the much later Post Office in Quincy. There is even a more Italianate cornice on the lateral side. Note the smokestack hidden in a pinnacle on the right.

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