In days gone by some counties believed the cure for a faulty clock tower was decapitation. And while it might have saved a little money, sadly it erased a lot of the grandeur. Such was the case in Montgomery County in the 1940s when a leaning condition, which some found invisible, led to the clock tower's demise. Fortunately county commissioners saw fit to leave the remaining building in its Neoclassical glory, and for over a decade Montgomery County citizens have been working to replace the tower.
The present courthouse is the third in a series. It joins the ranks of five other Indiana courthouses designed by the prolific architect George W. Bunting. After Civil War general, lawyer and author Lew Wallace spoke at the cornerstone dedication in 1875, the building opened for business in 1876. Ironically it was a Union Army general who laid the cornerstone on a building designed by a Confederate Army colonel.1
Even without its clock tower, the Montgomery County Courthouse exhibits classical elegance through the use of sandstone, brick, and a two-story portico supported by columns and crowned by a pediment. Among Indiana courthouses, the placement of the building is unusual in that it does not occupy an entire block, but rather sits close to Washington Street on a quarter of a block surrounded by commercial buildings.
In 1906 the county erected a towering bronze and stone war memorial designed by Rudolf Schwartz. Schwartz is perhaps best known as the sculptor for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis. The 1906 monument honors casualties dating back to the Revolutionary War; Montgomery County officials continued to add the names of subsequent fatalities through the Vietnam War.
The Montgomery County Courthouse and Soldiers and Sailors Monument are listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Crawfordsville Commercial Historic District.