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Faces on the Courthouse Columns

By Mike Watson

Since many courthouses were used to store military supplies and to house soldiers, many were burned during the Civil War. Adair came close to losing her courthouse to Confederate General John Hunt Morgan on one of his passes through the county... In the years after the War, our courthouse was in dire need of replacement or remodeling in the 1860s and the Court took up the question at least once, but money was tight and they delayed.

At a special session of the Adair County Court in August 1884, Judge A.E. Sallee and James G. Conover, John Eubank, E.W. Burton, Peter Tarter, W.A. Richards, G.W. Carter, C.W. Pile, William England, W.S. Dudgeon and J.F. Morris, justices of the peace, moved to build a new courthouse to replace the old structure which was in poor condition. William Henry Hudson & Columbus Stone bid to build the new courthouse and the Court accepted their bid of $17,486.50.

The new structure was to be erected on the site of the present one and seventy-five percent of the money was to be provided as needed, the remainder upon completion of the project. The firm of Harry, Kenneth and Donald McDonald of Louisville submitted the plans for the structure. C.J. and Uriah L. Taylor purchased the old courthouse for the sum of $180. This did not include the bell, chairs, stoves, tables, or the stone under the columns. At this time a petition was presented to the court to build on Greensburg Street. There was considerable disagreement before a decision was made to remain in the original location.

An unusual feature of the new courthouse were the two carved faces on the capitals of the two pillars that face Jamestown Street, one of a woman and the other a man. There is no way to determine who these were meant to represent. Many have speculated and some believe Stone, who was a gifted stoneworker, honored his partner, William Henry Hudson and his wife with the portraits. No one knows for sure--I say that because Nancy Berley and Ruth Paull Burdette tried for many years to determine the identity of the faces, but no proof was ever found. There have been numerous news features that mentioned the Hudsons, but that is naught but speculation and supposition. I tend to believe they are the Hudsons, but until I can find definitive proof, I cannot say they were the Hudsons.

Related: Letter: Face carvings on the courthouse

This story was posted on 2022-07-14 13:53:02
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