HISTORY OF FAIRFIELD COUNTY
COURT HOUSES.---Fairfield county's first court house was built in 1806, and occupied in 1807. Four years had elapsed since the first court of common pleas had convened in the county, during which the courts were held in log cabins. The new temple of justice was a two-story brick, and stood in the center of Broadway, on the north side of Main street. It was one of the first structures of the kind then complete in the state. The brick were made by Sosthenus McCabe---it is said at $2.50 per thousand. In the first story was the court room, the seats being arranged in amphitheatre form. In the second story were two jury rooms, reached by a flight of winding stairs. The roof was conical, and "hipped," and surmounted by a balcony and steeple. A fine bell hung in the balcony. The building was used for nearly sixty years, and was condemned by the county commissioners, in 1864, on account of its supposed dampness, the floor resting near the ground. Soon after the war, it was torn down, and the fears of dampness proved unfounded, by the remarkable dryness of the floor-lumbers. For the three years between the demolition of this venerable edifice, and the completion of its successor, the commissioners rented the basement of the German Reformed Church, on Chestnut street, for the sitting of the courts. At a very early day, a two-story brick was built on the south side of Main street, and in the southeast part of the public square. This building contained four rooms, and was used by the county officers for several years. It was called, for political reasons, probably, the "Red Lodge," though the exact origin of this sobriquet is not now known. The postoffice was kept in the lower story, for a time. After the removal of the county offices, and also a small book store, the Fairfield Telegraph newspaper was published in the upper story, for about three years, in connection with the telegraph office. After the removal of Judge Irwin to his farm, south of town, the county commissioners purchased his large brick dwelling, on the north side of the square, and devoted it to county uses. This arrangement was in effect between 1843 and 1850. Soon after the purchase of the property, a stone vault was built on the premises, in conformity with a statute providing, for the safe custody of the books and funds of county treasurers. In this place the offices were continued until the completion of the new court house, in 1871. The Irwin house, known for more than twenty years, as the "county building," was used as a high school, for some time after its vacation by the county officials, and finally sold by the county, for five thousand dollars. The new court house was completed in 1871, about four years from
the time the ground was first broken for the foundation. Immediately after the condemnation of the old court house, the county commissioners began to move in the matter of erecting a suitable court house, large enough to contain all the county officers. The choice of a site was a matter of some difficulty, and, while pending, occasioned much discussion. The northeast corner of Main and High streets was finally decided to be the most eligible site, and the ground was pur- chased from John S. Brazee. for $5,000. An adjoining lot, on the east, was subsequently bought, of John Randolph, and added to the first purchase. The whole was inclosed with a strong stone wall, surmounted by an iron fence. A special act of the legislature was secured, which authorized a levy on the county duplicate for $100,000, for build- ing the court house, and the funds were raised by the sale of county bonds. The plan was drawn by Jacob Carman, architect, of Lancaster, who directed the construction from the first. The corner-stone of the new court house was laid with appropriate ceremonies, and a large number of articles deposited therein. Among them were the names of county, state and national officials, religious and secular newspapers, religious pamphlets and books, several bottles of wine, and the names of the teachers and pupils of the Lancaster high school. When the house was finished, its cost was found to have exceeded the original appropriation by more than $50,000, but this amount was levied and collected without trouble, the public being fully satisfied with the quality of the work. The Fairfield county court house is entirely of Waverly sand-stone, quarried in sight of the structure, and is three stories high. The basement story is occupied by the heating apparatus, rooms for storage, and the living apartments of the janitor. The main hall, on the second floor is paved with marble, and fronting it are the offices of the auditor, treasurer, surveyor, probate judge and recorder of the county. The common pleas court room is on the third floor of the south end. The jury rooms and the county clerk's office are on the right and left of the hall, at the north end. The inside work of the edifice, is all of hard wood. From the roof, a fine view of the city, the romantic country around it, and of a portion of Hocking valley, is obtained. JAILS.---The first jail was built of logs, and stood in the northwest corner of the present jail grounds. It was erected probably about 1802, though the exact date is unknown, there being no record on this subject. The jail had but one room, and was, at that time, considered very strong ; but prisoners sometimes escaped from it, notwithstanding. A man and woman, confined there once, escaped in a single night, by prying up the puncheon floor, and borrowing out under the logs. About 1816, a two-story brick jail was built on the south side of the jail grounds, fronting on, and close to the pavement of Chestnut street--- nearly in front of the present jail. The west end was occupied by the family of the sheriff. There was a single prison-room below, where all prisoners were confined, besides a dungeon, for such as were condemned to solitary confinement on bread and water---a punishment more common than now. In the east end of the second story was the debtors' prison, as debtors were not kept with other offenders. A debtor might, by furnishing a bondsman, be allowed liberty within
prescribed bounds. The limit of this privilege was, sometimes, only the narrow jail-yard, sometimes a mile square, and again the township. If he overstepped the line, inadvertently or otherwise, his bondsman became personally responsible for the debt. This jail was torn down in 1852, and replaced by the one now in use. The new structure is of sand-stone, two stories in height, and provided with strong cells, and large corridors for exercise. The female department is in the second story, and is sometimes used for confining the milder class of male prisoners, when not otherwise occupied. The sheriff's residence, in front, is a two-story brick, with all the appointments of a comfortable dwelling. The sheriffs office, a one-story brick, is at the east end. Communication with the jail is through the hall of the dwelling. A high, iron fence, which, in itself, is a very good prison, surrounds the jail-yard. THE COUNTY INFIRMARY.---The necessity for a county infirmary was felt about 1827. Previous to that time, such persons as became county charges, were cared for in their respective townships, by officers called "overseers of the poor," who let out the contract for the keeping of each pauper, to the lowest bidder; such contract running one year. The conditions were that the mendicant should receive adequate food, comfortable clothing, and competent medical attendance. The county infirmary is situated two and a half miles north of Lancaster, and the farm contains one hundred and seventy acres of land. The first buildings were erected in 1828, and were of frame. In 1840, these were removed, and a two-story brick building placed on the same site. The dimensions of the new "poor-house" were then sufficient to accom- modate the county poor, as well as provide a residence for the superin- tendent. From time to time thereafter, out-buildings were erected, the main building enlarged, and various accessories provided, the better to conduce to the welfare, and make the place more attractive to visitors. The present value of buildings and grounds, is about $17,000. The infirmary is under the control of three directors, whose tenure of office is three years, the term being so arranged that one new director is elected each year. The office of superintendent of the infirmary is filled by this board, no time being fixed, the incumbent retaining his place solely by pleasure of the board. He resides in the institution, and has immediate charge of the inmates, attendants, and all properties belonging to the premises. The annual expense of the institution, at present, is about $12,000. This does not include outside support, nor outside medical attendance ; two items which, last year, amounted to about $1,000. A common school is maintained in the infirmary, in which the common English branches are taught by an inmate---the county incurring no expense therefor, other than that of the few books required. The number of inmates in the infirmary, February 1st, 1881, were: males, seventy; females, fifty-four; and of this number, there were twenty boys, and twelve girls. Of the whole number of inmates, there were thirty idiots, two blind, two epiliptics, and fifty-eight infirm. Eight were above the age of eighty; and sixteen were over seventy years. The expenses of the institution would be vastly increased but for the farming, stock raising, and fruit culture largely carried on by the inmates.
THE CITY HALL, OF LANCASTER, is of brick, three stories high, and was built in 1859. It stands on the former site of the old Red Lodge, before mentioned, south side of Main Street and on the southeast part of the public square. The third story is the Hall of Charity Lodge No. 7, I. O. O. F. The lodge loaned money to the city, towards the erection of the building, conditionally that the city should provide the Odd Fellows with a suitable meeting place. For this the city receives a fixed rental. The second floor contains one room, which is called the City Hall, and is used for public meetings of various kinds. It has a stage and scenery. The hall has been a source of considerable revenue to the city. The front or north apartment of the lower story has been used as a post office, for twenty years. The middle division con- tains the Mayor's office and the city council chamber. The south part is set apart for the fire engine and hose. When first erected, the third floor of the building was pronounced unsafe. The ceiling sank, and examination showed that the girders and roof timbers were not well secured to the walls. Iron girders were used, and ten iron pillars set in the audience chamber, which averted the danger. The old Market House, is situated on the west division of the public square, and was built in 1824. It is two stories high. The south room of the second story was used as city council chamber, until the erection of the City-Hall, and for various other purposes. The north room was a Masonic Hall for many years, and is now used by a building association, for its weekly meetings. The lower rooms have always been used as a meat market, and the sheds and adjacent pavements, form the general market space. The regular markets have sometimes been suspended for a whole year, and the building has fre- quently been threatened with destruction, which, however, has not yet overtaken it.