Ohio Channel films segment on Trumbull courthouse
By ED RUNYAN
Ohio Government Telecommunications has filmed a mini documentary at the Trumbull County Courthouse to be shown in December on the Ohio Channel, a public-broadcasting station headquartered at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
The video is one in a series that began to air four years ago highlighting the distinctive characteristics and histories of Ohio’s 88 county courthouses.
Three individuals participated in the filming last week: Trumbull County Probate Court Judge James Fredericka, local historian Wendell Lauth and Meghan Reed, director of the Trumbull County Historical Society.
Reed said one of the top features of Trumbull County’s courthouse is the largest common pleas courtroom in the state — Courtroom No. 1 on the third floor, used by Judge Andrew Logan.
It is also one of the largest courthouses in the state and is significant architecturally, she said.
It was built starting in October 1895 to replace the county’s second courthouse, which burned in a March 25, 1895, fire. The Richardson Romanesque structure was completed in May 1897.
Reed said it is also one of the most original courthouses in the state.
“The courthouse demonstrates how significant Trumbull County was at the time,” she said. “It’s a very large building, and it stands out as a showcase within our downtown.
“That was done to show off the community. Warren’s motto was The City of Modern Methods — the fact that Warren was the first town to have incandescent street lights, the fact that we were so instrumental in industry on a national scale. That’s the kind of vision the creators of the courthouse were looking toward.
“It depicts what in 1895 was the best of the best, what people were going for — large rooms, high ceilings. It was meant to be a showcase of justice.”
Some of the characteristics of Richardson Romanesque architecture are curved archways and differences in texture on the front of the building, including conical turrets, Reed said. “You don’t see Trumbull County mentioned very often without the Courthouse coming to mind or logos of the Courthouse. It’s become a symbol of our area.”
Lauth said one of the people who deserves credit for the distinctive look of the building is A. LaBell of Marion, Ind., the architect.
“It does stand out in the whole state as a rather unique structure,” Lauth said.
Judge Fredericka said he thinks some of the most interesting aspects of the building are the historical figures who spent time there, such as attorneys Clarence Darrow and F. Lee Bailey.
Darrow was born in 1857 near Kinsman and is best known as the lawyer who defended a teacher in Dayton, Tenn. in 1925 who taught evolution in what was called the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Bailey was a defense attorney in a murder trial that began June 2, 1970, in the courthouse. The defendant, Willie Head of Youngstown, went on trial in the murder of another man during a picket-line melee at General Motors Lordstown assembly plant.