OTTAWA — The Ohio Historical Society’s Open Doors program has allowed residents to see places they might not normally get a chance to see.
In Ottawa the doors to the Putnam County Courthouse were opened for tours on Sunday.
Judge Randall Basinger, who wrote a book about the courthouse, told those gathered that the current courthouse is the fourth one for Putnam County.
“The courthouse is in remarkably good shape. It’s an Italian Renaissance design building that was built in about 1912 and has served the county really very well as its offices and has been beautifully maintained and it’s a classic example of Italian Renaissance architecture,” said Basinger.
The structure itself was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
“It was built over a two-year period. There was a courthouse on the front lawn and it was built over a two year period. Most of the materials were brought in by rail to one of three railroad stations here in town and brought over by horse or truck. Most of the construction lasted over a two-year period. The old courthouse remained standing while this one was being built and then was torn down,” he said.
Behind the design for the courthouse was someone who made his impact on the world of architecture.
“The architect for the courthouse construction was Frank Packard, who designed about 3,000 public buildings, including four other courthouses and most of the Ohio State oval that centers at Ohio State University. So he was a very famous architect. He designed this one at the direction of the commissioners and the building commission and it was approved by the voters for $200,000 and came in slightly under budget,” Basinger said.
Surprisingly, the courthouse has seen few changes over the years, Basinger noted.
“There have been minimal changes. The building is largely as it was built. It has a lot of marble and stained glass, and the use of the courtrooms has really served the county very well. The county hasn’t grown dramatically in size from when it was built, so it’s been incredibly utilitarian and useful,” he said.
The building was built with steel and was covered in limestone.
“When it was built, there were several building construction and additions that were coming into use, including the elevator, which was the first one in the county. It also included centralized heating,” Basinger said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.