200@200 : October — To Govern and Serve
Date:
1847/1861/1902
Title:
Allen County Courthouse Desk
Description:
In 1831, eight years after the establishment of Allen County, county leaders decided to build a courthouse and the county clerk was instructed to advertise for bids. The winning bid was for $3,321.00, but the building was never completely finished and, eventually, was deemed unsafe due to poor construction. In 1841, a plan was approved for a new county courthouse, not to exceed $15,000. It was completed in 1847, but only eleven years later it was determined to be too small for the needs of the county. The third Allen County courthouse was a large brick structure. After a decade of construction, the courthouse was completed in 1861. The surrounding green was the scene of many patriotic gatherings during the Civil War and after, but by the 1890s, the building was decaying and it had to be replaced.

Designed by architect Brentwood Tolon, the cornerstone of the fourth and current courthouse was set on November 17, 1897. Completed at a cost of over $800,000, the building was dedicated on September 23, 1902. The crown of the building is the copper sheathed dome on which turns the 14—foot copper wind vane of the Goddess of Liberty. She views the city 255 feet above street level. In 2003, the Allen County Courthouse was named a United States National Historical Landmark.

This desk was crafted out of walnut with an interior framing of poplar. It has turned legs and two drawers. The slanted front can be raised to reveal nine interior document compartments. The desk was used in Allen County courthouses from 1847 until about 1902 when the current courthouse was completed. It's stained, scratched and gouged surface is evidence of long use.
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Desk used in 1847/1861/1902  Allen County CourthousesDesk used in 1847/1861/1902 Allen County Courthouses
Desk used in 1847/1861/1902  Allen County CourthousesDesk used in 1847/1861/1902 Allen County Courthouses
1902 Allen County Courthouse, south entrance1902 Allen County Courthouse, south entrance
1861 Allen County Courthouse1861 Allen County Courthouse
Desk used in 1847/1861/1902  Allen County Courthouses, inside detailDesk used in 1847/1861/1902 Allen County Courthouses, inside detail
Desk used in 1847/1861/1902  Allen County Courthouses, inside detailDesk used in 1847/1861/1902 Allen County Courthouses, inside detail
Desk used in 1847/1861/1902  Allen County Courthouses, detailDesk used in 1847/1861/1902 Allen County Courthouses, detail
Desk used in 1847/1861/1902  Allen County Courthouses, inside detailDesk used in 1847/1861/1902 Allen County Courthouses, inside detail
Desk used in 1847/1861/1902  Allen County Courthouses, inside detailDesk used in 1847/1861/1902 Allen County Courthouses, inside detail