EATON — The Preble County Courthouse is included in events during a week in which Ohio History Connection is inviting the public to discover Ohio’s amazing heritage, as historic buildings and landmarks across the state open their doors for special tours as part of “Ohio Open Doors” Week.
More than 200 partnering organizations are hosting events in communities all across the Buckeye State. During the events, visitors can explore fascinating places that reflect Ohio’s rich heritage. All Ohio Open Doors events are free, and most are special one-day-only opportunities. This includes the Preble County Courthouse’s Centennial Celebration and Rededication on Sunday, Sept. 9.
Preble County Commissioner Chris Day, Commissioner Denise Robertson and Commissioner Rodney Creech have been researching the history and events of the construction of the third Preble County Courthouse in Preble County, and offer for the interest of their constituents the following timeline:
On Aug. 9, 1915, the second Preble County Courthouse was deemed unsafe, unsanitary and inadequate to keep the public records by the then-Board of Preble County Commissioners, Joseph A. Day, Silas Q. Buriff and William Johnson.
On Dec. 23, 1915, the Preble County Common Pleas Court Judge A.C.Risinger appointed Silas Q. Buriff, Joseph A. Day, William Johnson, John Fahrenholz, Griffin.E.Rensman, Josiah E.Flora and A.L.Reid to the Preble County Courthouse Building Commission with their mission to construct the third Preble County Courthouse with Jail.
On Dec. 28, 1915, the Board of Preble County Commissioners decided to visit several courthouses in Ohio in the following cities: Ottawa, Ohio, Kenton, Ohio, Lebanon, Indiana and Danville, Indiana. After those visits, the Board of Preble County Commissioners decided that they liked the design of the Hardin County Courthouse in Kenton, Ohio.
On Feb. 3, 1916, the Board of Preble County Commissioners received 14 applications for architects. On Feb. 12, 1916, the Board of Preble County Commissioners unanimously selected Richards, McCarty & Bulford of Columbus, Ohio and H.H.Hiestand of Eaton, Ohio to prepare sketches and plans for the third Preble County Courthouse with Jail with said plans approved on April 10, 1916.
On April 17, 1916, the Board of Preble County Commissioners adopted a resolution fixing the site of the temporary Courthouse on Lot#245 (currently Crowell Plumbing) in the City of Eaton, at the time owned by E.S.Stotler for a monthly rent of $50.
The current offices housed in the temporary courthouse included the Common Pleas Court, Treasurer, Probate Court, Juvenile Court, Auditor, Clerk of Courts, Clerk of Court of Appeals, Board of County Commissioners, County Surveyor, Sheriff, Superintendent of Schools, County Nurse, and the Board of Elections.
On May 6, 1916, the Board of Preble County Commissioners borrowed $250,000 at 4.45 percent interest for 25 years, from Preble County National Bank — money to be used to build the third Preble County Courthouse with Jail.
On Aug. 26, 1916, the Board of Preble County Commissioners received 12 bids for the construction of the third Preble County Courthouse with Jail. On Sept. 16, 1916, the Board of Preble County Commissioners awarded the construction contract to M.J.Roche Construction Company of Cincinnati, in the amount of $209,456.
On Feb. 24, 1917, the Masonic Lodge of Eaton, composed of Messrs. Andrew Coffman, Chas B. Unger and Logan Brown accepted for their lodge the invitation to conduct the ceremony of laying the cornerstone for the third Preble County Courthouse on March 17, 1917.
On Aug. 6, 1917, the Board of Preble County Commissioners approved the bronze tablet of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to be placed on the 2nd Floor wall in the third Preble County Courthouse in memory of Governor Andrew L. Harris by his son, Walter C. Harris.
On Aug. 7, 1917, M.J.Roche Construction Company requested a 3-month extension to complete the third Preble County Courthouse – “Due to the existing conditions of Railroad shipments of procuring of material. We are experiencing a great deal of difficulty in getting steel for the Jail and shipments of Marble. Trusting that you will see the justice in our request, be it to remain.” The Board of County Commissioners extended their completion date from Sept. 1, 1917 to Dec. 1, 1917.
In November 1917 the construction of the jail on the fourth floor of the third Preble County Courthouse began.
The third Preble County Courthouse was dedicated on Sept. 10, 1918 and built for the total sum of $247,912.71 under the then-Board of County Commissioners, William Johnson, Henry Busch and H.A. Hinea.
The finishing touches were made and on Sept. 30, 1918 and at that time, the Board of Preble County Commissioners adopted a resolution designating the third Preble County Courthouse as the official place for the transaction of official business of all the county officers of Preble County.
“The Preble County Courthouse has stood the test of time and continues to be a beautiful landmark in the center of Preble County”, said Commissioner Day.
Commissioner Robertson noted that “it must have been an incredible sight for the citizens in our county when they first saw this magnificent building completed in 1918.
Commissioner Creech added “that in all of Preble County’s history, there has never been an event that has surpassed its proportions such as the construction of this beautiful building that we all know as the Preble County Courthouse.
The Board of Preble County Commissioners invite and welcome everyone to the Preble County Courthouse Centennial Celebration and Rededication on Sunday, Sept. 9, beginning at 1 p.m.
After the program, the Elected Officials in the Courthouse will host an open house to allow members of the public to visit their offices.
For a list of other participants across the state, and for more information about Ohio Open Doors, visit ohiohistory.org/opendoors.