On July 4, 1846, the cornerstone for a new courthouse, designed by Thomas U. Walter, was laid as construction began that would replace the first courthouse of 1786. It now stands as the historic Courthouse of Chester County becoming one of Walter’s greatest architectural achievements and West Chester’s iconic structure. On February 22, 1848, the new courthouse opened. But due to a lack of funds, the facade was brick rather than the stone facing you see today. In fact, it took more than ten years to entirely face the structure with Pictou stone, which finally completed it. District Court 15-1-04 continues to be held there.
The oldest part of the Courthouse is actually the Clock Tower, also designed by Thomas U. Walter, and first placed on the original courthouse in 1838. In 1848, it crowned the new Courthouse and since that time the bell has rung every hour, on the hour, to make the community aware of any appointments that need to be kept. It is the oldest sound in West Chester.
A public drinking fountain, which ran water continuously from an underground spring, was placed in front of the Courthouse in 1869 to provide “water for people, horses, and dogs” from separate drinking bowls.
In 1891, the Courthouse Annex, with its entrance on West Market Street at Courthouse Alley, was constructed. It was designed by T. Roney Williamson, who interpreted an Italian Renaissance style although it’s connected to the Greek Revival Courthouse. It was faced with Indiana limestone while the interior was embellished with Italian marble wainscoting, stained art glass, and decorative wood garlands, diamonds, and pilasters. The current occupant is Congressman Ryan Costello.
Old Glory, created by Easton PA artist Harry Lewis Raul (1883-1960) is a cast bronze sculpture standing proudly at the corner of High and Market Streets. It was unveiled on June 11, 1915.