Nearly 150 years after its creation, the one of a kind Judge’s chair at the Macoupin County Courthouse has once again been restored. The restoration was funded by donations through tours of the Courthouse and admission to the Courthouse Christmas Open Houses. Thanks to those donations, the chair was repaired, reupholstered and rehydrated with oil by the Furniture Doctor in Girard.
“Since 2015, the Carlinville Tourism Committee has offered tours to Scouts and 4-H groups, students, tourists, and bus touring groups. Their donations, no matter how big or small, were a way for visitors of the Courthouse to invest in the preservation of the ‘Million Dollar Courthouse’ and its contents for future generations.” said Andrea Duncan, member of the Carlinville Tourism Committee.
The Judge’s chair is a 7 foot, hand carved walnut chair with plush upholstery said to have cost $1500 in 1869. To move the massive chair, a track system was laid and wheels were attached to the bottom of the legs. The court bailiff would push the chair with the judge sitting in it up to the bench before court and then back into place after court was adjourned. In newspaper articles through the years, it was stated a number of judges felt the chair was too big and uncomfortable for daily use.
The chair was originally restored in 1926 after being found in one of the alcoves where it was gradually deteriorating and falling to pieces. It was restored to its crimson velvet beauty by the Carlinville Women’s Club with the work completed by Heinz & Company of Carlinville.
In recent months, the arm of the chair was broken and the chair was roped off to prevent further damage. After completing the repair work, Bob Ernst of the Furniture Doctor advised that no one should be allowed to sit in the chair because the wood was so brittle and irreparable damage may occur.
The Carlinville Tourism Committee continues to work with Sheriff Kahl and Judge Deihl to restore and preserve contents in the Courthouse. You can contact the Tourism Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a tour of the Courthouse.
Anyone interested in donating to the Macoupin County Courthouse renovation fund can do so by making a tax exempt donation to the Macoupin County Community Foundation (MCCF). Mail your donation to:
112 N. Side Square
Carlinville, Illinois 62626
Please write Courthouse renovation on the memo line.