Scott County marking courthouse's 100th

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BENTON, Mo. -- A state representative once said the Scott County Courthouse's foundation would "last as long as the Pyramids of Egypt."

Well, the seat of Scott County's government has made it the first 100 of those years.

The county plans to celebrate the centennial of its courthouse in the courthouse square at Benton from 3 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Benton will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Scott County Courthouse Saturday. (Laura Simon)

Attendants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Sunscreen is also recommended. Soda and water will be available throughout the day.

The building was conceived about 100 years ago -- designed in 1912 and dedicated on April 20, 1914, it is the sixth courthouse for Scott County. The designing architect was Henry H. Hohenschild, who also designed the courthouses for Barry, Christian, and Pemiscot counties. All of those courthouses are still standing.

The Scott County Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 2004. The courthouse underwent renovations in 2003, including work on the building's elevator, electrical system, heating systems and cooling systems. The improvements were made possible by a half-cent sales tax in Scott County.

"It was designed to last and accommodate the public for at least 100 years, and this it promises to do, and its foundation will last as long as the Pyramids of Egypt," said Albert DeReign, who was quoted in materials provided by the Scott County Historical and Genealogy Society. DeReign was elected to the Missouri Legislature in 1894.

Today's local politicians don't use as much hyperbole in describing the courthouse. But Scott County's commission takes pride in the old courthouse, and the commission was where the idea for the celebration originated. Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said he has a great appreciation for the building.

"It has been said that the Scott County Courthouse is one of the most beautiful buildings in the state of Missouri," Burger said.

He said further history of the courthouse will be given at the event.

"It's pretty impressive the courthouse has been in operation since 1912," Burger said.

At 3 p.m., the celebration will kick off with the presentation and posting of colors by area Boy Scouts. An invocation by the Rev. Dennis Lowe will follow. The national anthem will then be sung by Anna Katherine DeHart. Elected officials will lead those attending in the Pledge of Allegiance. Burger, Benton Mayor Joe Stuckey and historical society president Gary Ziegler will give the official welcome. Burger will proceed by recognizing both past and present officials in attendance.

"We are hoping that most of the current officials are there and we have heard that a few past ones will be there," Scott County Clerk Rita Milam said.

The Reischman family will perform patriotic music at the event.

The courthouse will be open for tours from 4 to 5 p.m., given by the historical society.

"The courthouse looks great now," Burger said. "We renovated it and restored it a few years back. The community's proud of it."

Hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks will be provided. There will be live music from 6:30 p.m. until the celebration concludes at 10:30 p.m. Anna Katherine DeHart and the Dirt Road Express will perform from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Chimes of Freedom band will perform from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. A fireworks display will conclude the celebration at 10:30 p.m.

"I think it should bring a big crowd. We're a very tight-knit community," said Deborah Gunter of the Scott County Historical and Genealogy Society.

The area that is now Scott County was officially transferred to the United States on March 9, 1804, through the Louisiana Purchase. Scott County itself was organized Dec. 28, 1821, when New Madrid County was divided into Scott and New Madrid counties. At that time, the county contained only two townships: Moreland and Tywappity. The original Scott County Courthouse was built in 1837 in Benton. In 1844, the log courthouse was torn down and a brick courthouse erected in its place. It was poorly constructed and, within a few years, was also torn down and replaced by a frame building. In 1864, by an act of the legislature, the Scott County Courthouse was moved to Commerce and the courthouse sold. In 1878, by public vote, the Scott County seat was returned to Benton. A new courthouse was constructed in 1883. That building stood until 1914 when Scott County's current courthouse was constructed.

rovermann@semissourian.com

573-388-3688

Pertinent address:

Aflac agent Debra Ann Ellinghouse assists Tara Mason with her insurance Tuesday inside the Scott County Courthouse in Benton, Mo. Benton will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the courthouse from 3 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
LAURA SIMON
lsimon@semissourian.com

131 S. Winchester St., Benton, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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