Stark County Courthouse

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Image of the Stark County CourthouseLocated at 115 Central Plaza North in Canton, the Stark County Courthouse is a beautiful structure built in the architectural style known as Beaux Arts Classicism. Completed in 1895, it is the third courthouse to occupy this site. The first, a Federal-style structure erected in 1817, was replaced by a larger Italianate structure featuring two towers with a separate annex completed in 1870.

Within two decades, the second courthouse was outgrown, but the county commissioners were reluctant to undertake the cost of a new structure during the depression years of the 1890s. Accordingly, Cleveland architect George Hammond was commissioned to revise and expand the existing structure. Hammond’s design called for the construction of a new, larger building around the body of the existing structure. Hammond’s plan focused on the imposing bell and clock tower, which was crowned by four courthouse angels – the “Trumpeters of Justice” that once were visible for some distance along most approaches to the city.

The courthouse is divided into four stories and is adorned with Roman arches throughout.

Carvings in the sandstone façade depict four central female figures robed in the Greek peplum, which together are allegorical representations of Commerce, Justice, Agriculture and Industry.

The courthouse is famous for being the site where the body of Canton resident William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, was displayed in the central lobby after his 1901 assassination. President McKinley lived in Canton for many years, practiced law in the courthouse and was Stark County’s prosecuting attorney from 1869 to 1871. He also was a member of the U.S. House of Representative from 1877 to 1891 and served as the Governor of Ohio from 1892 to 1896 before becoming the president in 1897.

The Stark County Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

(Information developed with the assistance of Marc Warner, court administrator, Stark County Court of Common Pleas.)