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What's in a Name? - Courthouse Square#745, Howell, Michigan

The Livingston County Courthouse is a dominant feature of the city of Howell. It reposes sedately among trees on a plot the size of a city block. Livingston County, named in honor of Edward Livingston who was Secretary of State under President Jackson, was organized under an act of legislature approved March 24, 1836. The first courthouse was built in 1847 at a cost of $5,928 on land donated by Peter Cowdry and Edward Thompson. The original courthouse was condemned in 1889, and the Opera House was rented for Circuit Court purposes at a cost of $15 per day until the new courthouse was ready for use.

The three-story brick structure, opened in 1890, is Richardsonian Romanesque, a type of architecture named for Henry Hobson Richardson, a nineteenth century master architect who translated the American experience into lusty constructions. The citizens of Howell gave the clock to the county for the top of the new building. It was installed on February 9, 1890. The dial is eight feet in diameter and the numbers are nine inches high; the clock has four faces with a gilded copper weather vane on top. Within the steeple is a 1200-pound bell that was originally used to strike the hour; it was also used as a fire alarm. In 1976 plans were made to restore the building and preserve its historic and architectural charm, particularly the delicate frescos, adamants, and carved woodwork. In August of 1976 the courthouse was placed in the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.