History of Chester County Courthouse

In 1682, William Penn established Chester County as one of three original counties in the Pennsylvania Colony and a Court House was constructed in 1724 in Chester near the Delaware River. Population density and immigrant migration necessitated moving the facility inland. Between 1784-1786 a Court House was built in the village of West Chester on High Street.

Business activity and court proceedings multiplied as more people populated the newly divided Chester County. By the 1830s drafts appeared for a larger Court House. In 1846 the Commissioners contracted with Thomas U. Walter to design a structure for the same site. Walter completed his plans for a Greek Revival building and construction began the same year. The brick and stone edifice was opened officially on Washington's Birthday, 1848. Three years later President Millard Fillmore appointed Walter as the Architect of the Capitol, a position that still exists today. Walter designed the Capitol's dome, both the House and Senate wings and other federal buildings.

The Chester County Courthouse
The Chester County Courthouse in 1870

In 1859 the Court House facades were faced with Pictou stone and the County Commissioners continued to maintain it as needs arose. But by the end of the century more room was required to accommodate the courts and public services.

In 1891 T. Roney Williamson designed the Court House Annex. Built of Indiana limestone, it is an interpretation of the Italian Renaissance style and was erected contiguous to the Greek Revival Court House. The interior was embellished with Italian marble wainscoting; stained art glass; and decorative wood garlands, diamonds, and pilasters.
An architectural drawing of the Williamson
Part of the 5 story North Wing

1964 - substantial growth in during the  twentieth century necessitated another building expansion. A 5-story North Wing was built to accomodate additional court rooms and county offices.

Today the Court House complex is an assemblage that illustrates Chester County's growth through the decades. The Corinthian columns, designed by Thomas U. Walter, that grace the front entrance have been and will continue to be a distinguishing focal point and symbol of justice far into Chester County's future. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Chester County Courthouse today

Milestones of the 19th & 20th Centuries

Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1889

1889 - Barnum & Bailey Circus Comes to town

1910 -President William H Taft Visits West Chester
Visit by President Taft in 1910
Dedication of "Old Glory", a statue of a Civil War soldier holding the American Flag, in 1915

1915 - Dedication of "Old Glory", statue of a Civil War soldier holding the American Flag,