In March, I started taking pictures of Illinois county courthouses. The boring aim was to visit every county in Illinois. Because most counties don’t have few interesting things in them outside another corn farm, the courthouses seemed like an interesting stopping point in each.
Outside the few urban areas in Illinois, most courthouses are in the largest communities in the area and are the economic powerhouse of each (such as it is in a broke state.)
Outside Chicago area, which houses 2/3rds of the population, most counties have a low population density. At least 1 in 3 have fewer than 25,000 souls.
DeWitt County – Clinton
Clinton is home to the DeWitt County Courthouse. Built in 1986, it is totally utilitarian. It reminds me of my middle school, Carl Sandburg.
It is not much to look at and is fairly depressing to look at. I wouldn’t want to enter it to fight a traffic ticket.
Unlike some other counties, they demolished their old building. The square now houses a amphitheater, monument…and…
Overall, Clinton is a decently prosperous town. The reason lay in the fact that it is home to the Clinton Nuclear Power Plant. There is talk of it closing, so if this tax base closes, it could cause the town to dry up like so many out of the way places.
Macon County – Decatur
If I was going to shoot a new 1984 or Brazil, this is where I’d go. The Macon County Courthouse is an imposing structure on the southeast part of the downtown.
Built in the 1940, it looks like a typical WPA structure being solid wall of concrete. Given the size and shape of the windows, I bet the inside is is dark and dreary.
The clock on the building wasn’t working when I was their. Kinda indicative of Decatur. The town is a show piece of a run down Rest Belt city. There are many abandoned and blighted building scattered throughout town.
On the south side are the jail and a building that looks like a gym.
Walking north from the courthouse, there is decent historic shopping district, with a statue of Illinois’s favorite man.
A park in the downtown with a statue of our fallen heroes.
Christian County – Taylorville
The Christian County Courthouse in Taylorville is a well maintained structure build about the turn of the 20th century. It is one of the more common versions I’ve seen in Illinois as well as other states with a neat clock tower and large cathedral like windows on its top story.
Unlike the Macon courthouse, the clock on the tower was working.
It was still March when I visited but the grounds look well tended.
The square was about 2/3rds full of shops. It was not the most vibrant that I have seen. There were few people on the street even being around noon on a Friday. The establishments were aimed mostly towards local interests.
The overall appearance of the building was decent.
Of course Lincoln is here.
Montgomery County – Hillsboro
Hillsboro was the first town where it felt like the south. The buildings of the area have a southern flair similar to what I have seen in Kentucky or Virginia. The old courthouse still stands in the town center. Situated at the top of a hill, it and the grounds are well maintained.
The new Montgomery County Courthouse is situated a little farther north of the historical version next to a cool church.
Built in 1993, it looks more like a fire or police station.
It is not much to look at. It would be a building that I wouldn’t give a second thought to when exploring a town if Google Maps didn’t point it out.
The downtown is fairly vibrant. This is likely because it is the largest town in the area. The area is scenic meaning it is likely magnet for sportsman tourists.
Bond County – Greenville
The Bond County Courthouse in Greenville was built in 1884. It is smaller than many, looking more like a Gilded Age mansion rather than a courthouse.
Situated on a rise, it towers over than builds surrounding the square.
Fallen hero monument
Picture of the post office on the southwest side of the square. It looks like it was built around the same time. The building of the square are well maintained with most of them built from 1880 to about 1925.
This trip was cut short. I could only capture 5 counties.