EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
There has been preserved the contractor’s copy of the full record of the financial phase of the construction of Hancock County’s present courthouse, in the 1880s.
The contractor was W.H. Campfield, who made a business of building courthouses in this general area of the United States. He had special records prepared of his courthouse construction activities. It is in one of these record books that he kept a full account of all his transactions with Hancock County.
When contractors are paid gradually for construction work by public officials, each statement they present at the time of the request for payment is known as an “estimate.” There are 40 pages in the Campfield book that are labeled “estimates.” The first was dated May 7, 1886, and the last Oct. 27, 1888, which was the date of the dedication of the new courthouse.
The first estimate started off with an “excavating” charge of $175. Many of the early estimates are for carloads of stone. The work of cutting and fitting the stone also is reflected in many of the early charges.
Mr. Campfield received a total of $250,758.62 for his work, this amount including extras which developed as the work progressed. The architects, Wear and Kramer, received $11,357.41. Furniture cost $21,146.79, while the heating bill amounted to $9,270.
The courthouse clock and a bell which was installed cost $2,775. Safes were bought for $2,400, while chandeliers cost $2,260.15. The statuary group represented an outlay of $1,900, while John Hancock’s 16-foot statue cost $950.
The grand construction cost was $305,272.53.
After allowing for the bond premium which came to the county when the bonds were sold, it has been determined that the full cost of the new structure, including interest, came to $510,000.
The interest item, according to Spaythe’s history of Hancock County, was $223,010. The last courthouse bonds were redeemed in 1918.
THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS who were in office when the construction started were Andrew S. Beck, Charles S. Kelly and John M. Moorhead. When the building was dedicated, the terms of Mr. Beck and Mr. Moorhead had expired and in their places were Isaac M. Watkins and George W. Krout.
William T. Platt was county auditor and handled the payment of the bills for the county.
George W. Kramer, of the firm of architects for the structure, later entered into a partnership with Milton Harpster and this new firm drew the plans for the new First Methodist church and the new Presbyterian church, as well as the municipal building, all three of which were built at one time shortly after 1900.
The superintendent was William Burge, who received the sum of $2,454.50 for his work.
The front portico, according to the Spaythe history, provides an effect that “is similar to the grand triumphal arch at Paris, built by Napoleon and called the ‘Arc de Triomphe’.”
Surmounting the arch is a group of feminine figures representing Justice, Law and Mercy.
The contractor’s copy of the financial record of the courthouse construction was in the hands of the Campfield family for many years. A daughter was the late Mrs. Everett Coates.
Mr. Campfield built the home at 921 S. Main St. and the Campfield apartments just south. He also constructed the Argyle Block. He was the builder of a number of courthouses in Indiana and Ohio.