Phone Book Highlights Downtown Towers (part 1)

(98) Horizon - The delivery of the official Horizon Chillicothe 12801104_979813132089414_8080374738426292447_n
 I guess the Homeland Security cameras at the courthouse corners didn’t alert to a “drone” flying about the county government center at night.   
Then again, the term “drone” is misused for the kind of payload these RC micro-helicopters carry.

The recently released Horizon / Chillicothe Telephone directory cover features an aerial view of the “100%” intersection in Chillicothe.

That’s the term used to describe the importance of the intersection of Paint and Main when the effort to get the Carlisle reborn was a focus of the 2007 Hyett-Palma study. (Remember that?!)

But after 12 years total, the naysayers were proven wrong last year with the patient* building’s reopening.

I’m not sure if it’s the “Carlisle-Howson Building,” “New Carlisle,” or “Adena-Carlisle” – call it what you want, just don’t call it too late for saving.

Anyhow, Tim Anderson’s aerial photo shows what I’ll count as six of the city’s ‘towers.’ I’ll cover them here in a few installments.

County Center

First and foremost is the courthouse tower, glowing in its Christmas colors. This version of the Ross County Courthouse replaced the previous famous building used as the first Ohio Statehouse.

I had too much time on my hands when I created this 3-D rendering of the Chillicothe Statehouse.  Yeah, that’s me standing by the doorway!  And I do like candles in windows…but lacked the capacity to create window sashes.

That one was demolished soon after the Great Fire of April 1st, 1852, and its stone was sold and used in anxious rebuilding of the quarter of town hollowed out by the worst disaster to befall Chillicothe.

So, the building lives  – but mainly as invisible foundation walls…and as a few stones saved away and then added to other walls in commemoration of the original 1801 building.**

It was a “Foursquare Courthouse,”*** a form popular for public buildings in this region in that era.  I have observations, comparisons, and collections of them elsewhere.

There may have been an even earlier temporary log courthouse, but even historian Pat Medert**** told me she can’t confirm that. If there were, it probably became the log jail when the stone courthouse was built. (No comments on imprisoning politicians!)

c2004 Kevin B. Coleman Ignored Tags: $0118, $0119, $8773

The 1855-1859 courthouse is actually a brick building sheathed in Greenfield Dolomite quarried near Bainbridge.*****

Dolomite is a chemically hardened limestone – but not too hard. Part of that vein was hollowed out by aeons of trickling water to create what was known as the “Seven Caves” west of Bainbridge.

The use of that stone is unusual in Chillicothe, with the Waverly Sandstone (or Berea Sandstone) readily available under the hilltops and used for its more famous buildings, like the Statehouse and Adena Mansion – but I guess there was a desire for something a little more exotic.  So, larger monochrome blue-grey slabs were chosen over variously-variegated rusty warm blocks.

That finial atop the center gable?  It’s more than six feet of saw-cut solid stone.  I was privileged to get personal with it in an inspection for contractors planning to bid on the renovations in 2006.

The brick side walls of the center part were simply painted to match the stone, with molded bricks to match the stone moulding.

So was the tower – it is timber frame, with the original metal sheathing colored to match the rest of the building.

Atop the tower’s railing, the belfry was actually an afterthought.

(Usually referred to as a cupola, the BELfry is a place for the bell, instead of a cup-shaped ventilating CUPola.)

Though clock faces with yard-long hands were originally installed on the tower, there were no clock works!  The belfry was added in 1867 to house a 3,000-pound bell for the latecomer mechanism – which featured a 110-pound steel-cable-hung mercury-filled glass pendulum that lost less than 30 seconds in its first year.

A favorite perch of a peregrine falcon who chose the tower of the Ross County Courthouse in 2010 is at the upper right of the clock face.

Recently, the tower and trim around the clock face have been the roost of peregrine falcons, feasting on pigeons.  (Look – who’s there at 2:30?)

More soon in the next installment!  

(And can you predict my five other towers from the photo?)


*Hah!  Unintentional double entendré, since the building now houses those who have patients of their own… 

**Namely, the current courthouse, the Gazette building…and one fireplace of which I’ve been told.  

***Not to be confused with the c1890-1930 “Foursquare” house type.  Same concept: a two-story cubic building with hipped roof – but a different purpose and time.  Btw, “foursquare” doesn’t necessarily mean four rooms in a square – it just means solid-looking.  

**** Personal communication about summer 2014.  Much of this section draws from her entry in her Paint Street and Main Street volumes on the courthouse. 

***** Recent repairs to the wall of the south side hyphen involved locating and reopening the original quarry! 


Published by:

Kevin B. Coleman

Pre/historian, architectural historian, re-enactor, guide, reporter, speaker, writer, gardener, craftsperson, husbandman, et al., who can work in stone (flint knapping, flintlock, silicon chip) among other things and who is determined to use my knowledge, wisdom, and personal survival to help the greater good. At least, my cats and dog here in semi-rural Ohio tell me that.

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