History of Chester County Courthouse

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

Business activity and court proceedings multiplied as more people populated the newly divided Chester County. By the 1830's, plans began for a larger Court House. In 1846, the Commissioners contracted with Thomas U. Walter to design a structure for the same site as the current courthouse on High Street. Walter completed his plans for a Greek Revival building and construction began the same year. The brick and stone edifice was opened officially on George Washington's Birthday in 1848. Three years later President Millard Fillmore appointed Walter as the Architect of the Capitol. Walter designed the Capitol's dome, both the House and Senate wings and other federal buildings.
The Chester County Courthouse
The Chester County Courthouse in 1870

In 1859, the courthouse facades were faced with Pictou stone and maintance continued as needed on the building. But by the end of the century, more room was required to accommodate the courts and public services.

In 1891 T. Roney Williamson designed the Courthouse Annex. Built of Indiana limestone, it is an interpretation of the Italian Renaissance style and was erected contiguous to the Greek Revival courthouse.The interior was embellished with Italian marble wainscoting, stained art glass, and decorative wood garlands, diamonds, and pilasters.
An architectural drawing of the Williamson
Part of the 5 story North Wing

Due to substantial growth during the  twentieth century it was necessary to build another expansion in 1964. A five-story North Wing was built to accommodate additional court rooms and county offices.

Today the Courthouse 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.

On June 15, 1915, 35,000 people filled the courthouse square and lawn area to witness the unveiling of Chester County’s iconic statue,  Old Glory. The monument honors the heroism, sacrifices and patriotism displayed by Chester County’s soldiers, sailors and marines during the Civil War.
The Chester County Courthouse today