Tippecanoe County Courthouse
Tippecanoe County Courthouse
Southern and western sides of the courthouse
|Location||Public Sq., Lafayette, Indiana|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Architect||Farman & Pearce; Alexander,James F.|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival, Beaux-Arts, and Neoclassical|
|NRHP Reference #||72000013|
|Added to NRHP||October 31, 1972|
The Tippecanoe County Courthouse is located on the public square in the city of Lafayette in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The public square is located between the north-south 3rd and 4th Streets and between the east-west Main and Columbia Streets.
When the county was first organized in 1826, rooms were rented in which to conduct county business, until 1829 when the first courthouse was built; it was a two-story brick building. It was replaced by a larger brick building in 1845 at a cost of about $3,000; there was a fire in this building in the 1840s, but it was extinguished before it could do any damage. The third and current courthouse was built on the site from 1881 to 1884 at a cost of about $500,000. It is built of Indiana limestone and is two-and-a-half stories tall on a raised basement. Architecturally, it is a pastiche of styles including Second Empire, Beaux Arts, Baroque, Rococo, Georgian and Neo-Classical. Paul Goeldner in his study of Midwestern courthouses called the building the "epitome of county capitals".
When Samuel Clemens visited Lafayette he was asked his opinion about the Tippecanoe County Courthouse by a local newspaper reporter; Clemens replied: "Striking, striking indeed! It must have struck the taxpayers a mighty blow!" The comment was accurate as this was the most expensive courthouse built in the state until the Allen County Courthouse (Fort Wayne, Indiana) was built some twenty years later. The courthouse has one hundred columns, nine statues, an elongated dome with four clock faces and a 3,000-pound (1,400 kg) bell tuned to C-sharp. A 14-foot statue depicting liberty tops the courthouse dome at a height of 212 feet.
On August 2, 1998, perpetrator(s) crashed a pickup truck full of gasoline and explosives through the eastern entrance of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse. Local firefighters were able to put out the blazing truck—fortunately before any of the flammable materials in the truck were able to catch fire. On August 11, county authorities placed concrete barriers around the courthouse to help prevent a similar attack in the future.
A white male in his mid-40s was wanted for questioning because he was spotted near the scene around the time the truck crashed into the courthouse. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found evidence at the scene and sent it for processing but no arrest was ever made for the attempted bombing of the county courthouse. In 2008, a $50,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest but no progress was made before the statute of limitations expired later that year. The case remains one of few unsolved suspected instances of domestic terrorism in the United States.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- General R. P. DeHart, ed. (1909). Past and Present of Tippecanoe County Indiana 1. Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen and Company. pp. 155–157. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
- Counts, Will; Jon Dilts (1991). The 92 Magnificent Indiana Courthouses. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. pp. 164–5. ISBN 978-0-253-33638-5.
- "A Day in the Life of Tippecanoe County" http://tcha.ecn.purdue.edu:8080/?q=1998 Accessed 05-04-08.
- "Counter-Terrorism for First Responders" by Robert Burke, page 187, 510 pages, copyright 2006, ISBN 0-8493-9923-8
- "$50,000 reward offered in Tippecanoe Courthouse attempted bombing". Lafayette Online. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- Slade, Thomas M. (1983). Historic American Buildings Survey in Indiana. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 122. ISBN 0-253-32741-5.
- Smith, George Everard Kidder (1981). A Pictorial History of Architecture in America. New York: Bonanza Books. p. 463. ISBN 0-517-36237-6.
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