The Neoclassical style Putnam County courthouse occupies a prominent place within the Greencastle downtown commercial district. Situated in a classic Shelbyville Square plan, the courthouse occupies an entire block, sharing space with what may be the most unusual World War II memorial in the state, if not the country.
J.W. Gaddis of Vincennes designed the limestone courthouse that opened in 1905. Its stately design incorporates Corinthian columns and a clock centered in a classical gable. In the nineteenth century Gaddis worked primarily in Illinois and Missouri, and by the early 1900s had added Indiana sites to his portfolio. In addition to the Putnam County building, Gaddis also built Indiana courthouses in Clay and Huntington counties. Though not evident from the outside, a magnificent glass dome highlights the Putnam County Courthouse interior
On the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn is the ubiquitous Spirit of the American Doughboy designed by Spencer, Indiana native E. M. Viquesney. Identical World War I memorials can be found in towns and cities throughout the United States. In addition to the full-size sculptures, Viquesney’s famous figure was reproduced in the form of tabletop models and even lamp bases. The Putnam County version was dedicated November 11, 1927 and displays the names of 22 Putnam County veterans killed in World War I.
That unusual World War II memorial on the southwest corner of the courthouse lawn incorporates the infamous German V-1 “buzz bomb”—thought to be the only such weapon publicly displayed in the United States, and certainly the only one in Indiana. The bomb, which sits upon a v-shaped limestone base, was dedicated November 11, 1948 as a tribute to World War II Putnam County veterans killed in action.
The courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 as part of the Courthouse Square Historic District. To celebrate the courthouse’s centennial in 2005, local contractors and volunteers worked together to replace the steps, add a stage, and improve the landscaping.