Tippecanoe County Courthouse, Lafayette—West Lafayette, Indiana

Courthouse History

The Tippecanoe County Courthouse is located on the public square in the city of Lafayette in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The public square is located on 4th Street between Main and Columbia Streets in the heart of downtown Lafayette. Three courthouses have served the people of Tippecanoe County over the past 190 years.

The First Tippecanoe County Courthouse
stood between the years of 1829-1845
This courthouse was a small, Colonial style, simple brick building.
1st Tippecanoe County Courthouse stood 1829-1845

The Second Tippecanoe County Courthouse
stood between the years of 1845-1881
It was larger than the first building and had a classical influence, including two large Greek-style columns in front. The cost to build it was approximately $5,000.
2nd Tippecanoe County Courthouse stood 1845-1881
An artesian well was added to the public square in 1857. It was located in the northeast corner of the square. Because of its sulphur content, the well was a controversial subject for many years. After several unsuccessful attempts to re-drill the well, it was sealed off and covered in 1939.

The Third Tippecanoe County Courthouse, built in 1882 and still serves as the present Courthouse.
The architectural style of the building suggests the influence of Baroque, Gothic, Georgian, Victorian, Beaux Arts, Neo-Classical, and Second Empire styles. In 1880 the County Commissioners chose Elias Max, a local contractor, to design the Courthouse. A bidding system was used to determine who would build the Courthouse. The contract was awarded to Farman and Pearce for their bid of $208,000. However, Farman died before the first floor was completed in 1882. After the death of Farman, work stopped and the contract had to be re-bid. The bid of Charles Pearce, the surviving partner, was accepted by the Commissioners for an additional $241,000. The builder was Elias Max, and James F. Alexander was superintendent of construction. Originally, credit for the architectural design and plans was given to Elias Max. Additional research has recognized that James F. Alexander was probably the architect for the Courthouse.
3rd Tippecanoe County Courthouse 1882-present

The cornerstone dedication was conducted by the Masonic Lodge on October 26, 1882. The courthouse was completed in 1884 at a cost of $500,000, twice the original estimate.

© Visit Lafayette—West Lafayette Convention 2010