Davis County Courthouse – 100 Courthouse Square, Bloomfield
The original Davis County courthouse was erected in Bloomfield in 1844 for a total cost of $339. The building was 24 by 40 feet and made of logs. By 1851 it was deemed unsuitable for use and a courtroom had to be rented for $100 a year. A Methodist church was eventually used as a courtroom and it was not until 1875 that an election finally authorized the construction of a new courthouse.
The present Davis County Courthouse was designed by architects T.J. Tolan and Son and was built in 1877 by W.B. Larkworthy and F.W. Menke of Quincy, IL at a cost of $45,201. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. This building, which is still used as the courthouse, is typical Victorian architecture with wrought iron trim and a belfry. The Goddess of Justice proudly adorns the top of the belfry. The four-sided clock is readily noticeable to anyone entering Bloomfield.
The central clock tower is unusual in that it sits nine feet off center to the east. It is crowned by a life-sized statue of the Goddess of Justice, blindfolded, holding scales in one hand and a sword in the other. The clock faces are 8 feet in diameter and the length of each minute hand is 4 feet; each hour hand is 3 feet. The early Seth Thomas tower clock is signed “A.S. Hotchkiss” and dated September 24, 1879. It may be the only Seth Thomas tower clock in existence utilizing a pinwheel escapement. Winding the clock originally required climbing into the clock room weekly.
The distinctive mansard roof is pierced by an unusual number and variety of dormer windows. The beautifully proportioned and ornamented building is constructed of brick with sandstone veneer. The attic contains irreplaceable solid walnut beams and rafters. There are 115 windows in the building and 40 rooms, including several vaults.
The second floor courtroom was enlarged and moved to its present location at an unknown time. The partially restored courtroom seats 300 on the original chairs and benches.
The jail in the basement housed city and county offenders until 1973. The original basket weave iron cell partitions are still in place and can be seen by visiting the county assessor’s office located in the old jail area.
The 1,495-pound bell is 4 feet high and 38 inches in diameter. It was cast by the Meneely and Kimberly Bell Company in Troy, New York in 1879 – in the same room using the same method as the Centennial Bell, which was cast in 1876 to replace the Liberty Bell. The Centennial Bell still rings from the belfry in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, just as its sister bell tolls a melodious, low sound over the fields and meadows of Davis County. A large rope-turned wheel was originally used to ring the bell for a fire alarm. The rope hung down the north side of the building to within reach of a man’s arm. Today the bell is rang by a 25-pound hammer attached to a ½-horse power motor by an 8 foot long screen door type spring.
Today the Davis County Courthouse serves the same day-to-day functions as it did over 130 years ago. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, real estate transactions and other important events of life are remembered in the courthouse records.
The courthouse is striking in appearance and full of personality, even after serving the public for over 100 years. It is admired for its unique post-Civil War architectural style called “General Grant Gothic”.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8am – 4:30pm