The Ottawa County Courthouse: A History

The Ottawa County Courthouse in Port Clinton, Ohio is a beautiful, historic building. It has been serving the community since 1884 and is still in use today. Take a step back in time and learn about the history of this courthouse.

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Early History

The Ottawa County Courthouse has a long and storied history, dating back to the early days of the county. The first courthouse was a simple log cabin, built in 1833. It was replaced in 1839 by a brick building, which served as the county courthouse for over 50 years. In 1898, the current courthouse was built.

The first courthouse

In 1833, the courthouse was a simple log building. In 1854, the first brick courthouse was erected on the same footprint as the log courthouse it replaced. The second story of the new courthouse contained a large courtroom and two smaller offices. The first floor consisted of a single large room that served as both the public assembly room and the grand jury room. This building served the county well until 1884 when it was determined to be too small for the county’s needs.

The second courthouse

In 1854, the county purchased a lot on the southwest corner of Court and Jefferson Streets in Port Clinton for $500. The following year, a two-story brick building was erected at a cost of $3,200. This courthouse served Ottawa County for thirty years.

In 1884, the county commissioners asked for bids to build a new courthouse. The contract was awarded to Millington & Nichols of Toledo for $58,500. Construction began in July 1885 and was completed in early 1886. The new building was three stories high, built of red pressed brick with stone trim. It featured a mansard roof and a 140-foot-tall clock tower surmounted by a metal dome.

The current courthouse

The current Ottawa County Courthouse is located at 415 Columbus Street in Port Clinton, Ohio. It is the third courthouse to serve the county, and was built in 1884. The first courthouse was a log cabin built in 1816, and the second was a brick building constructed in 1833.

The third courthouse

The third courthouse, located at the northeast corner of Court and Sixth Streets (now Central Avenue), was erected in 1884-85. This imposing structure of cut limestone was designed by the Toledo architectural firm of Hamlin and Fellows in the High Victorian Italianate style. It is a three-story building with a high hipped roof, oriel and bay windows, prominent bracketed cornices, and tall slender chimneys. The tall central clock tower is capped by an unadorned octagonal cupola. Its classical details are restrained, giving the building an overall feeling of gravity and solidity appropriate to its purpose. The Ottawa County Courthouse is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The fourth courthouse

The fourth and current courthouse, built in 1884, is a fine example of the Second Empire architectural style. The building was constructed of Limestone from local quarries and is to this day, one of the most photographed buildings in the city. The cornerstone for this building was laid on July 4th, 1883, and the building was completed the following year at a cost of $72,000. The tower clock and bell were installed in 1886 at a cost of $2,500.

The Ottawa County Courthouse today

The Ottawa County Courthouse is located at the corner of East 8th Street and Adams Street in Port Clinton, Ohio. It was constructed in 1884 and remodeled in 1953. The courthouse is the center of the county government and the seat of the county court.

The fifth courthouse

The fifth courthouse, built in 1916, was designed by the firm of Mendel and Kirchner. The building is three stories high and is constructed of buff brick with limestone trim. The roof is flat and has a parapet on all sides. The main entrance is located in the center of the front façade and consists of a double door surmounted by a transom light. The doors are flanked by pilasters and topped by a projecting cornice. Above the entrance are three window openings, each containing a double-hung sash with six lights over one light.

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