Harrison County Courthouse – Bethany MO

Description

Sometimes misattributed to the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Bethany, Missouri’s Harrison County Courthouse and jail was enabled by the provision of federal Public Works Administration (PWA) funds. The stately Art Deco project was authorized in an election in 1938 as a bond issue in conjunction with PWA grant.

The cornerstone for the building was laid on Aug. 14, 1939; it was placed on the south façade of the building, at the southeast corner. The building was completed and opened in 1940.

A humorous story from the courthouse’s construction comes from the St. Joseph News-Press:

QUESTION OF SPELLING IS ISSUE AT BETHANY

BETHANY, Mo., Jan 11.–(Special) It was only after a struggle of years and finally three elections in a row that Harrison County’s new courthouse was authorized last fall by the voters, and now the battle turns and becomes one over how It shall be named. Or rather how It shall be spelled. Blueprints have the words “court house” on the front, and architects, who say they are following PWA forms of spelling, are holding fast to the determination to have it that way. The protest comes from those who regard the dictionaries as authorities in such matters, and they point out that Webster, says it is “court-house.” County court judges seem to think Mr, Webster may be right, but so far the architects are adamant and speak again of PWA. The compromise disciples of Henry Clay have offered the suggestion that “seat of justice” might be substituted. The protesters say they will fight It out to the bitter end and assert that the two-word spelling will become a subject for future jibes.

Source notes

"TO LAY CORNERSTONE," St. Joseph Gazette: July 4, 1939 (pg. 2): https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/560274886/ (accessed Apr. 10, 2022)

"QUESTION OF SPELLING IS ISSUE AT BETHANY," St. Joseph News-Press: Jan. 11, 1939 (pg. 1): https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/559077679/ (accessed Apr. 10, 2022)

St. Joseph News-Press: Sept. 11, 1938 (pg. 9): https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/559082451/ (accessed Apr. 10, 2022)

Photos: https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM5C01_Harrison_County_Courthouse_Bethany_Missouri

Project originally submitted by Barbara Pendleton and Evan Kalish on April 10, 2022.

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Location Info


1500 Central St.
Bethany, MO 64424

Coordinates: 40.269066, -94.035166

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