William Bartelt, Courthouse Historian, and William Au, Preservation Officer, recall the history of the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, which opened for business on January 30th, 1891.
With the growth of the city in the late 19th century, the pride of Evansville citizens also grew. The citizens of Evansville wanted a courthouse that would house the expanding government and reflect the pride of their growing city. After a recommendation from the Courthouse Site Committee meeting on August 4, 1873, land for the future home of the courthouse was purchased for $52,000. However, a decade passed before eight architectural designs were submitted. The winning design, a German interpretation of French Beaux Arts, was submitted by Henry Wolters and constructed by Charles Pearce & Company, for an estimated $379,450. Construction began in 1888 but was snagged by the discovery of hazardous waste during excavation for the foundation and the accidental death at least one worker.
The Old Courthouse was replaced by the modern Civic Center in May of 1969, but the cost of demolishing the Old Courthouse prevented its demise. The Old Courthouse was spared by the Conrad Baker Foundation, which supported it in its transition to a cultural & historical center, and a plan is in place by the Old Courthouse Foundation to renovate & restore it to glory.