Chester County, Pennsylvania
County of Chester
313 West Market Street
West Chester, PA 19380
610.344.6000

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History of Chester County

Old Courthouse.JPGChester County Courthouse

In 1682 William Penn established Chester County as one of three original counties in the Pennsylvania Colony and a Court House was constructed in 1724 in Chester near the Delaware River. Population density and immigrant migration necessitated moving the facility inland.   Between 1784 and 1786 a Court House was built in the village of West Chester on High Street.

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Business activity and court proceedings multiplied as more people populated the newly divided Chester County. By the 1830s drafts appeared for a larger Court House.  In 1846 the Commissioners contracted with Thomas U. Walter to design a structure for the same site.  Walter completed his plans for a Greek Revival building and construction began the same year.   The brick and stone edifice was opened officially on Washington's Birthday, 1848.   Three years later President Millard Fillmore appointed Walter as the Architect of the Capitol, a position that still exists today.  Walter designed the Capitol's dome, both the House and Senate wings and other federal buildings.

historic courthouse




In 1859 the Court House facades were faced with Pictou stone and the County Commissioners continued to maintain it as needs arose.  But by the end of the century more room was required to accommodate the courts and public services.







Chester County Courthouse - 1870 courtesy
of
Chester County Historical Society


Annex.JPG



In 1891 T. Roney Williamson designed the Court House Annex. Built of Indiana limestone, it is an interpretation of the Italian Renaissance style and was erected contiguous to the Greek Revival Court House. The interior was embellished with Italian marble wainscoting; stained art glass; and decorative wood garlands, diamonds, and pilasters.




Architectural Drawing of the Williamson
Annex courtesy of Chester County Historical Society 


Annex Construction.JPG













Courthouse Annex under construction - 1890
Other Milestones of that Period

             The arrival of the                                                             
      Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1889                                              a visit by President Taft in 1910
Circus arrival.JPGPresident Taft Arrival.JPG













                                                courtesy of Chester County Historical Society
                                                              
The dedication of "Old Glory",a statue of a Civil War soldier holding the American Flag, in 1915

                                         Old Glory 



North Wing







In 1964 substantial twentieth century growth necessitated
the another building expansion on the site.  A five story North Wing (right) provided additional Court Rooms and space for county offices.















Courthouse today.JPG







Today the Court House complex is an assemblage that illustrates Chester County's growth through the decades.  The Corinthian columns, designed by Thomas U. Walter, that grace the front entrance have been and will continue to be a distinguishing focal point and symbol of justice far into Chester County's future.  The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chester County