first Greene County Courthouse was in a log cabin owned by Springfield
founder John Polk Campbell. It served from 1833 to 1838. The second
courthouse was a two-story brick building built near the center of
the Springfield Public Square. It
served from 1838 until it was destroyed by an arsonist in 1861. The
third courthouse, believed to be the first three-story structure in
southwest Missouri, was begun in 1858 and was partly in use at the
time the second courthouse burned. It stood next to the current Heer's
Building location. These postcards depict the fourth Springfield
Courthouse, built in 1910-1912 at the corner of
Boonville Avenue and Center (later called Central) Street.
This postcard appears to be an architect's drawing of the building,
created before the actual building. It has no shrubbery or trees and
shows slight differences in the architecture when compared to the
second postcard. For instance, the
tops of the first floor windows look different on the actual building.
The photograph in the second postcard was created in 1914, according
to the September 30, 1993, Springfield News-Leader. The automobile
in the foreground also helps date the picture.
By 1906 the population of Springfield had increased to 60,000 and
because of this a new courthouse was considered a must. A great deal
of controversy followed about whether to move the courthouse further
north to appease the north Springfieldians, or to keep it near where
the current courthouse was. This controversy, along with the need
for the city to raise the money for a new courthouse, caused years
to pass before the courthouse was built. It was occupied on March
19, 1912, and was built in the Classical style of architecture with
Colonial-style entrances. The ground floor contained an office for
the county school superintendent and fire-proof vaults for paper storage.
The main or first floor contained offices for the recorder of deeds,
county assessor, collector, tax attorney and county surveyor. Across
the rotunda was the county clerk's office. The second floor contained
two large courtrooms as well as offices, jury rooms and men's and
women's witness rooms. At the time it was built, the third floor was
not occupied. The building was made of water-proofed white stone,
treated to keep it from darkening.
Renovations were made on the building several times between 1912 and
the present. One renovation in July 1981 made use of limestone blocks
from the county almshouse, which had recently been torn down. In 1996
the county built a new judicial building. After the courts were moved
to the new location, the county's administrative offices were shifted
and expanded. Commissioners thereafter referred to the old courthouse
as the "historic courthouse."