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Original 1980 Courthouse Wall and Plaque
The Boone County Historical Society is in possession of a piece of the retaining wall that previously surrounded the Boone County Courthouse. The original wall was constructed in 1899, it was rebuilt in 1980, and then most recently replaced in 2018 as part of the city's downtown square renovation project.
The wall piece in possession of the Boone County Historical Society is of the 1980 wall. According to The Boone County, Indiana, Sesquicentennial, 1830-1980, a pamphlet published by BCHS, the retaining wall committee raised $19,957.32, and, thanks to donations (or at-cost pricings) of material and labor the final cost of construction was reduced from the original $50,000 to $19,831.58. The wall was finished July 3, 1980, and dedicated July 5 as part of the county's sesquicentennial celebration. We believe the attached plaque has been part of the wall since it was finished in 1980. It notes the date of dedication, that the wall was reconstructed for the county sesquicentennial, and lists the names of the county commissioners at the time.
BCHS acquired the wall section when it was removed from the courthouse square, but it was not placed on an appropriate base, and is currently lying face down in the backyard of the Cragun house after having fallen over.
BCHS has obtained a quote to dig 18" down and pour roughly a 36" x 36" concrete pad, lift and set the stone in place and anchor it by means of drilling into stone and inserting re-bar rods.
If we can manage enough donations, we could also perform a soft media cleanup of entire stone monument and have the bronze plaque refinished to a like new condition, and get this piece of Boone County history back in tip top shape, preserved for future generations. We are hoping to raise between $500-800 to complete this project.
While researching this chunk of concrete history, we found the following article written by Ralph W. Stark in December of 1979 and published in the Boone Magazine.
December 1979- Boone Your County Magazine
Ralph W. Stark
When the Boone County Historical Society launched a campaign in midsummer to raise money for replacing the retaining wall around the Boone county courthouse lawn, this writer was prompted to research the history of the present wall or coping. Digging into the bound files of old Lebanon newspapers, he found that the wall was put into place in 1899 at the amazingly low cost of $690.50. The estimated cost of a replacement wall is $50,000.00.
It was reported in the Lebanon Patriot’s July 6, 1899, issue that the Boone county commissioners ordered a coping or retaining wall place around the courthouse lawn at its meeting earlier in the week, at an estimated cost of $400.00. The coping, as the commissioners termed the wall, was to be 14 inches high, and 12 inches thick, with 14 inch square posts at intervals, the posts to be two feet higher than the coping.
At their early August, 1899 session, the county commissioners awarded the coping contract to Norton & Gilmore, a Terre Haute construction firm, on its bid of $690.50, according to the story in the August 10,1899 issue of the Lebanon Patriot. There was one other bidder whose bid was $856.80 for 840 lineal feet of coping. The successful bidder went to work at once and the cement work was put into place without delay. When the courtyard job was finished, the Terre Haute firm was given the contract to put similar coping on the east and south sides of the Boone county jail lawn on its bid of $260.00. This coping was removed in 1939 when the present jail was built.
In raising money for the retaining wall restoration, the Historical Society is meeting with good success in “selling buckets of cement” at S2.00 per bucket, with the buyers being Boone county businesses, families and individuals. The deadline to reach the donations goal, according to Mrs. Joan Iddings, society president, is March 1, 1980, with the restoration work to be completed by July 4. 1980, in time for the county’s sesquicentennial birthday celebration.