Anyway, in Madison we don’t give up so easily. So what if your courthouse burns right before your bicentennial? We can build it again. We can build it better. And we did.
The lovely folks at the courthouse were giving free tours on Saturday, along with some musical entertainment outside. You could do things like walk into the Superior Court judge’s office and interrupt her while she was eating her lunch. Really. That actually happened. They preserved the clock face from the old cupola, half restored and half not restored to symbolize our resolve to rebuild, but also because it’s really cool to see what fire does to a clock face. It was interesting to see the great work someone did restoring all the old records that were stored in the courthouse. These records obviously go pretty far back. The one in the picture is from 1811. Most of the damage in the courthouse wasn’t from the fire so much as the water from the sprinkler system. And a lot of folks, including emergency responders, worked to get a lot of these records about before they got damaged. But a lot had to be freeze dried and restored.
By far the coolest part of the tour was the old jail. The new jail sits on the alley between Main St. and Second St., and I walk through there pretty frequently. The prisoners used to be able to see out of the teeny little windows, but they’re blocked out now. I’m not sure if the prisoners themselves did that or the jailers. But attached to the new jail is the old jail. And when I say old, I mean old.
Other pictures of the jail and courthouse:
|Another page from the 1811
deed of records
|The inside of a jail cell, with
fake prisoner in a cot
|This would be the toilet