Van Buren County Courthouse, photo taken 1978 Van Buren County Courthouse, photo taken 1978
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Van Buren County Courthouse Complex
111 East Michigan Avenue, Paw Paw - Van Buren County
Property Type courthouse
Style Classical Revival
Architect/Builder Claire Allen
George Rickman and Sons
Narrative Description The courthouse is a rectangular, three-story, hip roof structure of yellow sandstone designed in the Classical style. The four facades are all symmetrical and slightly projecting. A four-stage Italian Renaissance tower terminating in a cupola rises from the center of the building. The main cornice and the cupola are both made of copper. The main roof had to be replaced in 1960 due to deterioration.
Statement of Significance The handsome, and dignified Van Buren County courthouse was designed with fine materiels for permanence. It, like several other turn-of-the century courthouses across southern Michigan is expressive of the rapid growth of its community. The courthouse is an architetural monument in Paw Paw.
Marker Name Van Buren County Courthouse/Van Buren County
Marker Text VAN BUREN COUNTY Settlers attracted by lumbering came to this area in the 1830s. By the 1860s a mild climate, rich soil and easy access to the Chicago markets created a thriving fruit industry in Van Buren County. The county was one of thirteen platted by the territorial legislature in 1829, and one of six named for President Andrew Jackson's cabinet members. A gubernatorial commission chose Lawrence as the seat of government, however, when the county was set-off in 1837, the board of supervisors chose Paw Paw. When the board decided to build a new courthouse in 1900, it considered moving the county seat. South Haven, the county's largest town, Lawrence and Hartford all vied for the designation. In a county-wide election on April 1, 1901, citizens voted to keep the county seat in Paw Paw. VAN BUREN COUNTY COURTHOUSE Van Buren County officials occupied the first county courthouse (the present Paw Paw City Hall) in 1845. On September 2, 1901, Frank O. Gilbert, the grand master of the Michigan Free and Accepted Masons, laid the cornerstone for the present courthouse. Members of the Grand Army of the Republic and fraternal organizations marched through town in celebration. The Paw Paw True Northerner estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 people attended the ceremony. The monumental Classical Revival building, designed by Jackson architect Claire Allen, was dedicated on February 23, 1903. The Sheldon and Oradell Rupert memorial clock was installed in the tower in 1986. Both of Van Buren's courthouses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Period of Significance 1901-1930
Significant Date(s) 1901
Registry Type(s) 08/01/1990 Marker erected
08/09/1979 National Register listed
11/07/1977 State Register listed
Site ID# P24896