The Greene County Courthouse shares a dubious distinction of being one of the few “headless” Indiana courthouses. Having fallen victim to disrepair, the courthouse lost its tower in the 1950s. Similarly, courthouses in Benton, Montgomery, Grant, and Randolph counties also saw the removal of their crowning highlights either through fire or neglected maintenance. Nevertheless, the Greene County Courthouse is an important architectural example of the work of architect George Bunting, and maintains other elements of its original classical design. A prolific courthouse designer in Indiana and Michigan, Bunting’s Greene County building is one of only six remaining in our state.
The Johnson County Courthouse, also designed by George Bunting, provides a glimpse into the original appearance of the Greene County seat. Prior to its 1954 renovation, the Greene County Courthouse had corner pavilions and a bell tower with a pyramidal shaped roof—a scaled-down, less ornate version of that seen in Johnson County.
In spite of the detail lost in the removal of the corner towers and Mansard roof, the 1885 Greene County Courthouse exemplifies Neoclassical architecture. Brick pilasters emulate the columns commonly associated with classical structures. Limestone pediments once crowned the pilasters giving the building an imposing temple-like look. The rusticated limestone raised basement and steps leading up to the first level remind visitors and employees that this is a place of importance.
Commissioners debated the fate of the courthouse in the late 1990s, but ultimately financed a renovation of the historic building and construction of an addition for desperately needed space. The construction and renovation were not without controversy. Delays caused by structural cracks in the historic building led to renewed calls for its demise. Wisdom prevailed, however, and the addition opened in September 2006. Renovation of the historic structure will conclude in spring 2007.