Look Back: New courthouse impresses

On Oct. 5, 1899, hundreds of people gathered in Court Square to witness the laying of the cornerstone for our Wood County Court House. (Photo Provided)

Beautiful Work Is the Decoration in the New Court House

Wood County’s new court house is nearly ready for occupancy. The furniture is nearly all placed, and practically all that remains to be done to make it complete in every detail is the placing of several ornamental lamp posts at the main entrances and cleaning the different rooms of building materials and tools.

There is no denying that the building is handsome, especially within. The attractiveness within is largely due to the beautiful and harmonious decorating. This part of the work was done by Mr. H.C. Schubert of Cleveland, and is no doubt the finest architectural decorating in the city.

Mr. Schubert is an artist as his work eloquently testifies. The entire color scheme throughout the building is harmonious, while some of the handsomest features are unique and bespeak great individuality in their conception.

In the centre of the building, where the four main entrance halls meet, the rotunda extending to the dome is exceptionally beautiful. The dome [skylight] itself is of monumental stained glass, with a light yellow and green colors scheme of attractive design, which sheds a soft radiance through the main hallways during the day, and by means of one hundred electric lights above it produces sunshine effects at night. This is one of Mr. Shubert’s conceptions. The green and yellow of the dome is carried out in the ceiling and wall frescoing, getting darker as it reaches the lower hallway, where it is of a terra cotta color. On the eastern side of the rotunda on the second floor is a handsome painting in the semi nude representing liberty. The figure is of a woman holding aloft the torch of justice, while at her feet lie the broken shackles of tyranny. The whole idea of liberty is most expressively carried out in this picture.

The criminal court room on the eastern side of the second story is also very appropriately decorated. The ceiling coloring is very harmonious and pleasing, but the chief attraction in this room is a large figure back of the judge’s bench, representing Moses, the first great judge and law-giver. The idea was submitted to the county commissioners by Mr. Schubert, and after some hesitancy was adopted by them. It seems to be particularly appropriate and is certainly an original design for a temple of justice.

The circuit court room on the west side of the building is possibly the handsomest apartment in the entire building. Here 18 painted columns, each crowned by a caryatid capital of exquisite design, supports the heavily decorated ceiling. The color scheme here is yellow and olive.

An allegorical of justice in the circuit court room is one of Mr. Shubert’s most happy conceptions. It is distinctly novel and original and is a welcome innovation from the old fashioned justice with the sword and scales. In this picture a beautiful female figure is seated in a bank of clouds, while three cupids — one on each side and one just below — offer her the code of laws, the hood-wink to clear-sighted justice, and the balances of equality before the law. The goddess is ignoring the two former [cupids] but is leaning downward with extended hand for the scales in which justice is to be weighed. The picture is modern in its originality and forms probably the handsomest decoration in the entire building.

Excerpt from The Parkersburg News

July 4, 1901

(to be continued)


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have comments or questions about Look Back items, please contact him at: roberteenoch@gmail.com, or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.


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