This architectural "Jewel" has remained buried for too long. If you're heading south, or you just want a pleasant day trip, your may want to stop and see the South Bend Courthouse, just 36 miles south of the Chateau on one of the most scenic routes along the Washington Coast.
The South Bend Courthouse, dubbed 'The Gilded Palace of Extravagance', was designed by C. Lewis Wilson and Company of Chehalis, Washington, in 1909.
In 1910 the contract was awarded to the Northwest Bridge Company of Portland, Oregon. The courthouse was completed on June 20, 1911. The final cost, including the Tiffany styled art glass dome, added up to $132,000.
In the 1940s, the lack of interior details were rectified by commissioning an artist, who happened to be a County jail inmate, the task of painting the panels in the foyer with scenes from the early history of the County. He also painted the cement columns on the second floor of the rotunda to look like marble. At a distance, visitors still mistake the fake marbling for the real thing.
In 1977, the courthouse was added to the National Registry of Historic Places (#77001348).
During the past 100 years of existence, the Courthouse has undergone minor remodeling but essentially remains unchanged. The one exception was the cleaning and restoration of the art glass dome. Seventy years of accumulated dust and deteriorating soldering were finally addressed in 1980. The restoration of the glass dome cost $144,700, nearly $13,000 more than the cost of constructing the whole building in 1910.
The South Bend Courthouse is located at 300 Memorial Drive, South Bend, WA.
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