March County Courthouse Travel

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

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Clinton is home to the DeWitt County Courthouse.  Built in 1986, it is totally utilitarian.  It reminds me of my middle school, Carl Sandburg.

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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.

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Unlike some other counties, they demolished their old building.  The square now houses a amphitheater, monument…and…

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Lincoln!

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

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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.

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On the south side are the jail and a building that looks like a gym.

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Walking north from the courthouse, there is decent historic shopping district, with a statue of Illinois’s favorite man.

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A park in the downtown with a statue of our fallen heroes.

Christian County – Taylorville

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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.

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Unlike the Macon courthouse, the clock on the tower was working.

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It was still March when I visited but the grounds look well tended.

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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.

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The overall appearance of the building was decent.

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Of course Lincoln is here.

Montgomery County – Hillsboro

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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.

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The new Montgomery County Courthouse is situated a little farther north of the historical version next to a cool church.

 

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Built in 1993, it looks more like a fire or police station.

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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.

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Hello Lincoln.

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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

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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.

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Situated on a rise, it towers over than builds surrounding the square.


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Fallen hero monument

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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.

County Courthouse Hunting in May

In early May, my friend Mike and I headed towards the Illinois River after a series of torrential spring rains to see the aftermath.

We ended up hiking around Chautaugua National Wildlife Refuge near Havana, IL about an hour south of Peoria.  The river in the area was flooded but walkable if you kept to the flood berms.

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The forest that was underwater closest to the main flow of the Illinois River.

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There was lots of wildlife sunning themselves around the area from snakes to this critter.

After the hike, I decided to check out a few courthouses to check off a few counties.

Mason County – Havana

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The original part of the courthouse was built around 1851 but when walking around the grounds, it was hard to see the old sections as it was updated sometime in the later half of the 20th century.  It looks more like a elementary school than a courthouse.


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The square grounds are large and open, a nice place to stroll.


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Given the grounds are so large, the war monuments are spread throughout the southern and eastern sides.

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The flag was at half mast since one a soldier died recently in Afghanistan.

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Another memorial to the fallen.

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Havana’s downtown is a typical run down river town.  About half of the buildings are empty.  The city hall is in an old century old bank building.  There was a eclectic  general store selling saltwater taffy.

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Next door to city hall was a run down theater so common in the small towns of Illinois.  I wonder if they were playing pro wrestling or actually had a troupe in town.

Fulton County – Lewistown

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The thing that separates the Fulton County Courthouse is the cool dome of some unknown metal.  I figured it was made of lead mixture since there were a lot of plaques about being stop along the lead road that was mined in the Galena and moved south.

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Built in 1897, it was in good repair built of impress slabs of stone.

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Close up of the dome. The clocks still work.

Walking Around Peoria

Saturday was the first time this fall that the their was patchy frost on the ground.  Hopefully, this will bring out the colors in the trees.

 

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It frost soon burned off as I walked around Miller Park.  It turned out to be a nice day for color hunting.  Good day for traveling around Central Illinois, so to Peoria.  I choose the locations mostly because I never be to them.

 

Luthy Botanical Garden

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At the side entrance to the Luthy Botanical Garden,  there is a statue of R.G. Le Tourneau.  Inscribed underneath is “Mover of Mountains”  likely because he operated several large machinery operations in the early 20th century.   This piece of art would totally be at home in Rapture.

 

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The gardens are small and tucked away behind the Peoria Zoo.  Not as grand as U of I’s Allerton Park and large as Rockford’s Sinnissippi Garden, none the less it is nice to see cities trying to build places that have natural beauty.  Few people must come to visit because even though it was a nice day, there were only a half dozen other people on the grounds.

 

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Picture from behind the green houses.  The greenhouses themselves look like they have seen better days. 

 

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Bet this looks awesome in the spring with the flowers blooming.

 

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The garden themselves have many sculptures and other works.  Not sure what this represents, but it looked neat.

 

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Lemons as large as a softball.  Wish I could get ones this large at the store.

 

Springdale Cemetery

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Outside of Civil War burial sites and other national burial site, Springdale Cemetery is one of the largest cemetery’s I have ever walked in.  Hilly and heavily forested it is quite picturesque.  This is at the top of South Center.  The cemetery is in the process of turning the area back to prairie.

 

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This is near Orchard Hill.

 

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The Glen.  Because of the hilly terrain, many of the gravestones have shifted because of rain run off.  At night, this should give the area a creepy appearance of an old cemetery.

 

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There is a pet cemetery called Whispering Woods that allows special pet a comfortable resting place instead of being buried behind the garage or in landfill.  There were cat, dogs, and pair of bears. 

 

Donovan Park

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This park was once a golf course.  The conversion must have happen in the last few years because many of the greens and sand traps are still visible through the overgrowth.  Neat feature was that the 60s style golf signage is still in place that gives the park a unique feel.  On the grounds is Northmoor Observatory.   I wonder how good the view is given the light pollution around Peoria.