When it came time to design a new Rush County Courthouse, the firm's name may have given A.W. Rush & Son of Grand Rapids, Michigan a bit of an edge against rival bidders. While the Rush firm also designed courthouses for Fulton and Pulaski counties, it seemed destiny that it be hired to create the Rush County Courthouse. Of the three A.W. Rush & Son-designed courthouses in Indiana, the one in Rush County is the most ornate.
The current courthouse was constructed between 1896-1898 and was the third government building to occupy the public square in Rushville. So proud was the community of its new building that schools and factories closed and marching bands played for the laying of the cornerstone. When the county commissioners accepted the new courthouse February 1, 1898, they opened the doors to find magnificent Italian mosaic tile, marble stair treads, two opulent stained glass windows containing images of Lady Justice and the state seal respectively, and oak woodwork, all of which remains today.1
All three of A.W. Rush & Son's Indiana courthouses are similar in design, utilizing the Romanesque Revival style. The rough-cut stone, square towers, and heavy round arches portray a fortress-like appearance appropriate for a governmental building. Slight variations in design define the Rush firm's courthouses, but the ornamental limestone carvings truly set them apart. In honor of Rush County's agricultural heritage, stone carvers created a cornerstone with a shock of wheat flanked by a stalk of corn.2 On the west fašade, two carved faces perched above the door keep watch. Though their resemblances bear a remarkable similarity to county commissioners and two of the courthouse contractors, a specific identity has never been determined.3
Like most Indiana courthouses, the Rush County Courthouse is sited on a Shelbyville Square, with streets intersecting at each corner. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. As a birthday gift for the courthouse's 1996 centennial, county commissioners restored much of the building's original splendor by recreating historic light fixtures, restoring original paint colors and upgrading mechanical systems.
1 Janet A. Voiles. Rush County Courthouse : A Century of Facts, Fables and Photos. Rushville: Rush County Historical Society, 1996, page25.2 Voiles, page 20.