I think all States in the U.S. are divided up into counties and each county has a county seat. I happen to live near one of them. The country seat is where local government takes place. Almost all county seats have a courthouse to carry on their business. As a result most courthouses are surrounded by a courthouse square. In the past this was the very center of the local community.
Today most but not all courthouse squares are skeletons of what they used to be. Many of the functions that used to take place at the courthouse square have been replaced by franchised business located away from the square. Of course these include Wal-Marts, CVS, Walgreens, and McDonalds. The list can go on and on. Some call this progress; I’m not so sure. Many people of the last few generations are totally unfamiliar with the history of their local courthouse square. Some courthouses have a small history display set up somewhere on the premise (usually somewhere in a damp basement). Some have a few pictures on the walls showing the glory days. But I have not been able to find much on the internet relating to the history of courthouse squares.
I became interested in our local courthouse square soon after we moved here more than ten years ago. The architecture around the square is very unique to the very early 1900s. Unfortunately much of it has been modified over the years with most often a cheap and piecemeal modification such as blocking up the tall windows that used to display the merchants goods or services. I have spent many hours going through the newspaper archive micro films at the local library. The library has been relocated off the square about two blocks away.
My interest in our local town square is growing into a full fledged hobby. My goal is to document each building on the square as far back as I can go; hopefully to it’s origin. In the process I will be building dioramas in my hobby room for display at some local businesses and functions. I will also be bringing up a website for those interested in what I have found. Given my lifelong interest in U.S. history this project is right up my alley. If anyone has any suggestions on approaching this task I would be glad to hear them. I will try to make an occasional post here to tell you of my progress. This project should at least keep me out of trouble and out of my wife’s hair in the coming years.
And the journey goes on…