[Today, the Courthouse remains listed in the National Registry of Historic Places]
The Saline County Court House is a modest, pleasing and imposing structure, designed and rendered in Carthage Stone as the suitable medium for portrayal of the Grecian-Doric motif in architecture. The solid, substantial appearance of the building is consistent with the architectural conception, practical, in that it combines strength and durability of construction with full and commodious facilities wholly suitable to all purposes for which a Court House is intended.
The building is located on the old Court House site in approximately the center of the Block. The location and condition of the site made possible the construction of the ground floor on grade, thus making all the floor space of the building available for offices or whatever other purposes might be desired during the life of its occupancy. Entering the Courthouse from the east or west, artistically conceived corridors immediately arrest the attention. The wainscoting of quiet, subdued gray marble harmonizes most pleasingly with the soft tints in the walls. No sharp shadows mar the quiet glow of the modest decorations; no glare descends into the corridors to break the calm dignity of the interior design. Metal doors, provided with semi—obscure tapestry glass lettered to designate the purpose of the room, and cased with all marble casings, open into the office of the County Superintendent of Schools, with entrance through a waiting room to the private office. The examination hall and assembly room, provided with outside entrance from the south, has connections with the main corridor and also the office of the County Superintendent. This room is for the use of the General Public in small public gatherings and has toilet facilities in connection. The office of the County Court has been provided with ample vault space, and office room. The Court Room, while somewhat different in detail and furnishing continues the development of the architectural ideals in harmony and good taste. The two office rooms and vault for the County Sheriff, and two rooms for the County Surveyor complete the offices of this floor.
At the west of the main corridor, marble stairs rise to a landing, then ascend to the first floor of the structure. The corridor into which the stairway opens is reminiscent of the ground floor corridors, although somewhat less elaborate in design, opening into the office of the County Clerk, the office of the County Treasurer, the office of the Register of Deeds, all of which are arranged with commendable similarity, provision being made for a large vault with outside lights, thus making the vault a serviceable work space.
Conveniently located between the offices of the County Clerk and Treasurer, is the room provided for the County Commissioners, giving immediate access to the two offices with which most of their business is conducted.
The marble stairway to the second floor continues. A more somber, dignified tone pervades the corridors of the second floor, placing sheer architectural beauty with quiet, artistic dignity. The architect has devoted this floor entirely to the offices of justice. Leading out of the main corridor are a suite of rooms designed for use of the District judge; the suite consists of a well equipped office and library. Immediately adjacent to this suite is the Clerk of the District Court, who is provided with an office conveniently accessible to the court room. In the northeast corner of the building, a private hallway leads from the corridor into two jury rooms, with toilets in connection with each room. A consultation room for Attorneys and County Attorney complete the offices on this floor. The same modesty of design is developed in these rooms, dignified to a point where it is wholly compatible with the purposes of offices devoted to labors of justice.
The real achievement in the second floor development is the court room. Entering this room from the center of the corridor, the attention is immediately brought to focus on the somber dignity portrayed in the design of the judge`s bench. The dignity of justice is embodied in its stern lines. The deep walnut finish of the paneled walls and room equipment, the acoustical treatment of the high ceiling which holds the observer in an atmosphere of dead quiet, the complete units of design which fully exploit that legal refinement which is observed only in American courts of justice, define in actual dimension a room of justice than which none other is more suitable, more practical, more justly beautiful.
The construction of the high ceiling of the Court Room, and the low ceiling of the offices, permitted the placing of the Storage vaults on the third floor. Here have been provided four large Storage vaults with outside light and are more desirable than the old method of placing them in a basement.
Mention must be made of all the offices in general. Special treatment of the ceiling has reduced to a minimum the reverberation of each room so that the office noises are almost totally eliminated. The effect produces a paneled ceiling which adds much to the pleasing appearance of the offices.
The furniture and fixtures have been specially designed and built for its special service. It is in full keeping with the modest decorations into which it blends as a harmonizing part. Not only is it artistic, and decorative; it is practical, serviceable, convenient and carefully arranged and placed.
The electric light Fixtures also have a part in the completed building. Specially designed they form a part of the decorative scheme of the building.
A final impression of the Saline County Court House would be incomplete without consideration of the materials which entered into its construction and of the services which were rendered by those in whom the County Commissioners vested authority for the development and erection of the building. Full recognition and appreciation is due the architect, Marcus L. Evans, for the soundness of his architectural conceptions and the thoroughness of his supervision. Due credit must be given the contractors and material men for their part in carrying out the plans and specifications of the Architect. Mr. Fred Swanson, to whom was awarded the general contract, has erected a building of which we are justly proud, and his exceptional ability to carry on to a conclusion any building of this character will never be in doubt among us.
The plumbing and heating contract was awarded to the York Plumbing and Heating Company, and the electric wiring to the Crawford Electric Company. On the surface, the real work entailed in plumbing, heating and electrical wiring is not discernible. Properly, it should be and is concealed by the general construction and finish of the building, the evidence of their workmanship being revealed only in radiators, plumbing or electrical fixtures, but the quality and material of their workmanship is of the same laudatory character as that which is in evidence in the rest of the building.
The furniture and all fixtures were furnished by the Omaha Printing Company, and the evidence of their substantial organization is reflected in their selection of Art Metal Construction Co. line of desks, counters, vault fixtures and filing equipment. Chairs by Milwaukee Chair Co. Benches by Julius Kaaz Mfg. Co. The furniture and fixtures are of a construction that will endure the life of the structure. The electric light fixtures were specially designed by the Edwin P. Guth Company. Collaborating with the architect, they have produced a lighting scheme in complete harmony with the architecture of the building.
One of the main problems of the contractors is the assembling and coordinating the various materials which go into the construction of the building.
We appreciate the cooperation received from subcontractors and material men.
The County jail and Sheriffs home was provided for and erected under the same contracts as the Court House. The first floor of the jail provides for detention of sixteen prisoners in the most modern type of cell as developed, and furnished by the Southern Prison Company. The second floor is divided into two large rooms which can be sub-divided into individual cells as the need for such develops, and also provides for two cells for female prisoners. The jailer's office and kitchens are suitably located so as to be in close contact with the jail proper.
The Sheriffs home is modern in every respect, providing a living room, dining room and kitchen on the first floor and three bedrooms with bath on the second floor. The basement is equipped with a large laundry, vegetable cellar and vault for storage of confiscated properties.
The heating plant for the Court House, jail and Sheriffs residence is located under the jail, only access to which is from the exterior of the building. The heating pipes lead through a tunnel to the Court House.
A garage is also provided for the use of the Sheriff and accommodates two cars.