Macoupin County Courthouse celebrates 150 years

Macoupin County Courthouse celebrates 150 years

The Issue: Many in the county take the old building for granted.

Our view: The next few months will be a great time to reacquaint yourself with this historic building.

CARLINVILLE (Sept. 28, 2017) – Here in Macoupin County, much of the little bit of tourism we get is based on nostalgia. Visiting family and friends aside, most of those who come here do so because of Route 66. The stops they make along the route are largely due to the historic sites they find. In this area, the grandest, most historic and visually interesting thing one can find is the Macoupin County Courthouse, which is celebrating its 150th birthday.

Those who pass through Carlinville regularly are used to seeing that silver dome above the tree line long before entering the city limits. We may give it a glance as we pass buy, especially when it’s dark and the place is awash in white light or even Christmas lights. It’s a beautiful building and one many people never get tired of seeing.

To those unfamiliar with Macoupin County, that courthouse is like a giant jewel found in the most unlikely of places. The county, after all, is mostly farmland. While every county seat in the state has some sort of courthouse, the one here in Macoupin County ups the ante when it comes to historic design, architecture and sheer size.

Frankly, one of the most stunning things about the building is that it has been so well maintained. The cost and effort it takes to maintain historic buildings is staggering, especially a building so grand. The reason most of our old buildings get torn down is because maintaining them becomes cost prohibitive. We’re thankful for the efforts of the Macoupin County Board and the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Department to maintain the building. Doing so certainly isn’t cheap or easy.

The challenge to maintain the building is non stop. Most recently, the cannon in front of the building has been restored. The cannon has been around since the mid 1800s and saw action in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. It is one of only 10 of its kind remaining in the country.

Another recent upgrade in the building is the new elevator. While it was certainly inconvenient for people to hike up all those stairs while the elevator was out of commission, the work was completed relatively quickly and makes the Courthouse accessible to more people.

There have been recent improvements to the exterior lighting. The new lights, especially around the dome, have really enhanced the building, making the structure far more eye-catching a night. Even people who regularly drive buy the building noticed something different.

The Courthouse grounds are meticulously maintained. Master gardeners from around the area donate their time to keeping the grounds neat and blooming from spring through fall.

Another improvement that might not seem like much, but made a world of difference was the power-washing the masonry received last year. The difference was remarkable. The building went from being kind of dingy and gray to gleaming in just a few days.

Yes, our Courthouse is a spectacular building. During the next few months, we encourage residents of Macoupin County to reacquaint themselves with the building and the story behind it. Courthouse tours are available. For more information, contact carlinvilletours@gmail.com.