Brief History of Huntingdon County’s Three Courthouses

By Nancy S. Shedd


At the formation of Huntingdon County in 1787, when the town of Huntingdon was made the seat of justice, it was a village of perhaps two dozen log houses, with no public buildings except for a tavern or two. Thus Lodwick Sell’s tavern, facing on Allegheny Street at the rear of Swirles Himes’ present lot, was designated the site of county courts until a proper courthouse could be erected. County officials’ first attempt at constructing a combination courthouse and jail was doomed by a fire which leveled the building before its completion. And so courts apparently continued to be held in the tavern until completion in 1797 of a handsome brick courthouse in the middle of Third (then Smith) Street, facing on the south side of Penn (then Hill) Street.

courthouse-1First Courthouse  (1795 – 1842)

Complete records of construction of the 44 by 36 foot building by contractor John Blair show that excavation of the cellar commenced August 5, 1795, with William Rose and John Lindsay doing the digging and consuming nine quarts of whiskey during their eleven day’s labor. The impressive structure was built into the slope of Third Stree