Oldest standing courthouse provides a glimpse into the past


By Sarah Hawley - shawley@civitasmedia.com



The Chester Courthouse is seen here during the Morgan’s Raid reenactment last year.


The flax wheel and yarn wheel are on display at the courthouse.


One of the newer pieces at the courthouse may be this basketball with the names of the 2014 state champion Eastern Lady Eagles basketball team.


An antique typewriter and versions of Encyclopedia Britannica can also be second at the courthouse. The encyclopedias are copyrighted in 1891.


This radio from the late 1930s or early 1940s allowed for people in the area to learn of events and news from outside of the region.


The doll house is a replica of a house on the Shade River in Orange Twp. which was built by Dale Henson of Carterville, Georgia, as a gift to his sister-in-law in 1992. The house is a replica of the home of her grandparents, Ruby and Pearl Cole.


The Chester-Shade Historical Association takes part in many events, as well as teaching students about the history of the area when they visit the courthouse.


Located on the first floor of the courthouse, this organ was crafted by the Mason and Hamlin Organ Company.


The quilt of the village of Chester was created by elementary students at Chester Elementary School several years ago.


The doll on display on the second floor of the courthouse was fashioned in a style which was worn in the early 1900s.


Jugs on display at the courthouse were originally from several businesses in the Pomeroy area.


The podium, gavel and flags are on display on the first floor where court was held when the courthouse was in use in the 1800s.


On the top floor of the academy building are genealogical records, as well as books such as these which are duplicate auditor’s records.


Throughout the second floor are dolls and mannequins dressed in clothing from various historical periods.


Quilts from throughout the years are displayed for visitors to see.


CHESTER — Nearly 200 years after Meigs County’s first courthouse was constructed, the building remains standing, not only as Ohio’s oldest courthouse, but the oldest standing courthouse in the Northwest Territory.

With extensive renovation work completed in the late 1990s, the courthouse has been open to the public since 2001, serving as a museum, as well as a site for genealogical research.

Walking through the two story courthouse, visitors can see where some of Meigs County’s earliest trials were held, as well as where the county conducted business from November 1823 until July 1841 when the county seat was moved to Pomeroy.

According to information available at the Chester Courthouse, Middleport was the first county seat, but “buildings of justice” were never built there.

In 1821, Levi Steadman donated 30 acres of land in Chester where the historic courthouse was constructed.

Steadman, one of the first elected commissioners of the county along with William Alexander and Elijuah Runner, met at Steadman’s residence until the courthouse was completed in 1823.

Minutes of the early commissioner meetings show the specifics of the size and building materials for the courthouse, as well as that the courthouse, jail and jailer’s house be built on the highest ground in the village, explaining why the courthouse rests atop the hill overlooking the Chester Commons. The stone and brick work was to be completed by Abel Chase for a total price of $2,156.

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 by the Return Jonathan Meigs DAR Chapter, the building would undergo extensive restoration in the mid to late 1990s behind the efforts of Mary Powell, Dale Colburn and Patricia Holter, among others. Around $300,000 in work was done to the structure which at the time the restoration began was “terribly deteriorated with holes in the roof and plaster off the lower half of the walls.”

Now, the courthouse has been restored with many of the original specifications stated by the first commissioners. The original beams for the room still remain visible on the second story, allowing visitors to see the craftsmanship of the historic structure.

Work continues to take place in the courthouse and the neighboring academy, with new doors specially crafted for the building put in place earlier this week at the academy.

The Chester Courthouse is seen here during the Morgan’s Raid reenactment last year.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_9.20-Raid-24.jpgThe Chester Courthouse is seen here during the Morgan’s Raid reenactment last year.

The flax wheel and yarn wheel are on display at the courthouse.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-1.jpgThe flax wheel and yarn wheel are on display at the courthouse.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-10.jpg

One of the newer pieces at the courthouse may be this basketball with the names of the 2014 state champion Eastern Lady Eagles basketball team.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-11.jpgOne of the newer pieces at the courthouse may be this basketball with the names of the 2014 state champion Eastern Lady Eagles basketball team.

An antique typewriter and versions of Encyclopedia Britannica can also be second at the courthouse. The encyclopedias are copyrighted in 1891.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-12.jpgAn antique typewriter and versions of Encyclopedia Britannica can also be second at the courthouse. The encyclopedias are copyrighted in 1891.

This radio from the late 1930s or early 1940s allowed for people in the area to learn of events and news from outside of the region.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-13.jpgThis radio from the late 1930s or early 1940s allowed for people in the area to learn of events and news from outside of the region.

The doll house is a replica of a house on the Shade River in Orange Twp. which was built by Dale Henson of Carterville, Georgia, as a gift to his sister-in-law in 1992. The house is a replica of the home of her grandparents, Ruby and Pearl Cole.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-14.jpgThe doll house is a replica of a house on the Shade River in Orange Twp. which was built by Dale Henson of Carterville, Georgia, as a gift to his sister-in-law in 1992. The house is a replica of the home of her grandparents, Ruby and Pearl Cole.

The Chester-Shade Historical Association takes part in many events, as well as teaching students about the history of the area when they visit the courthouse.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-15.jpgThe Chester-Shade Historical Association takes part in many events, as well as teaching students about the history of the area when they visit the courthouse.

Located on the first floor of the courthouse, this organ was crafted by the Mason and Hamlin Organ Company.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-2.jpgLocated on the first floor of the courthouse, this organ was crafted by the Mason and Hamlin Organ Company.

The quilt of the village of Chester was created by elementary students at Chester Elementary School several years ago.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-3.jpgThe quilt of the village of Chester was created by elementary students at Chester Elementary School several years ago.

The doll on display on the second floor of the courthouse was fashioned in a style which was worn in the early 1900s.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-4.jpgThe doll on display on the second floor of the courthouse was fashioned in a style which was worn in the early 1900s.

Jugs on display at the courthouse were originally from several businesses in the Pomeroy area.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-5.jpgJugs on display at the courthouse were originally from several businesses in the Pomeroy area.

The podium, gavel and flags are on display on the first floor where court was held when the courthouse was in use in the 1800s.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-6.jpgThe podium, gavel and flags are on display on the first floor where court was held when the courthouse was in use in the 1800s.

On the top floor of the academy building are genealogical records, as well as books such as these which are duplicate auditor’s records.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-7.jpgOn the top floor of the academy building are genealogical records, as well as books such as these which are duplicate auditor’s records.

Throughout the second floor are dolls and mannequins dressed in clothing from various historical periods.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-8.jpgThroughout the second floor are dolls and mannequins dressed in clothing from various historical periods.

Quilts from throughout the years are displayed for visitors to see.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/02/web1_Courthouse-9.jpgQuilts from throughout the years are displayed for visitors to see.

By Sarah Hawley

shawley@civitasmedia.com