Forgotten facade

A commemorative illustration of the Allen County Courthouse

Hidden in shadows of National City Center, the original main entrance to the Allen County Courthouse is often overlooked today. But at the turn of the 20th century, architect Brentwood Tolan designed the building's Calhoun Street side to command the attention of those who entered it.

Somewhat forgotten, because it is not as visible as the Courthouse Green or Main or Berry street exteriors, this entrance is the most ornate of the four. With its busts of local and national historical figures, the inscribed names of the county's 20 townships and its carved quotations, the west exterior deserves another look.

The courthouse is built of blue Indiana limestone. Tolan's Beaux-Arts design combined Renaissance, Roman and Greek architectural styles. Beaux-Arts characteristics include: a heavy, monolithic structure; symmetrical design; rusticated stone on the first story; decorative friezes; arches; and rosettes and garlands used around windows and doorways. Ionic and Doric columns adorn the building's first and second stories, with Corinthian columns on the third.

More than a dozen sculptures grace the west side of the building, to represent the county's place in civilization and to inspire residents as they entered the courthouse. The sculptures symbolize agriculture, transportation, science, industry, ambition, knowledge and law. Busts of President George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette overlook Calhoun Street.

The building's exterior is an impressive introduction to the elegant decor that awaits visitors inside the Allen County Courthouse.

Inscriptions on the west exterior

Forth from this fair life,
measureless things are wrought:
A thought-dawn born
which shall not cease to broaden,
till its beam
makes noon of knowledge
for a gathered world.

* * *

is the knowledge
of things divine
and human,
the science
of what is right
and what is wrong.

* * *

Be just and fear not.
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