(images: The old Second Empire courthouse, the present art deco building shortly after dedication in 1937, a portion of the stairway metalwork created by Haynes, and a photo of the poalescent glass skylight in the rotunda.)
The Art Deco style took its name from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. The trend went well beyond architecture to influence many aspects of fashion through the early 1940s, including furniture, art and clothing.
With its emphasis on modernity and industry, Art Deco seemed like the perfect style when Kokomo architect Oscar F. Cook set out to design the Howard County Courthouse. In spite of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Howard County looked to a new era of prosperity as advances in automotive technology brought the Delco Radio Division of General Motors and Chrysler Corporation to Kokomo.
County commissioners acknowledged the need for their government to keep up with the county’s growth by constructing a new courthouse. A fire had led to the demolition of the 1868 “Second Empire” style courthouse in 1927, which scattered county offices throughout downtown Kokomo. In 1935, the county commissioners obtained a grant from the federal Works Progress Administration for construction of a new courthouse; dignitaries from throughout Indiana gathered on Oct. 20, 1937, to dedicate the new building.
The modern building features a stylized limestone entry flanked by two bronze lamps and beautiful bronze doors decorated with the likenesses of Kokomo founder David Foster and local inventor/industrialist Elwood Haynes. Inside are curving stainless steel handrails and polished marble flooring that continue the Art Deco motif. Elwood Haynes was also the inventor of stainless steel and the handrails and other metal work were manufactured in Kokomo by the Haynes Company. A beautiful skylight features opalescent and cathedral glass from the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company.