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Locals reflect on Franklin County Courthouse

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Benton courthouse

BENTON (WSIL) -- With the old Franklin County Courthouse soon to be demolished, business owners on the Benton Square are reflecting on the building.

Bryan Drew, managing partner of Drew Law Group, has been working in and around the courthouse since he was a teenager.

"Even before I was an attorney, I was in it a lot working. The bailiff there, Linda, used to laugh when I came in. I walked with a real heavy step, and she said, 'One of these days you're going to fall straight through those stairs, down into the basement.'"

As Drew prepares to watch the building go, he remembers what, to him, made it unique.

"It was different than a lot of courthouses. It wasn't large, and because of that, it created a lot more of an intimate feeling as you were within a foot of many of the jurors, or people when you're trying a case."

"When that building was built, we had 37 states in, I believe it was 1874, which it's older than the Statue of Liberty."

Joe Sprague, owner of The County Seat Antique Mall, says the historical significance can even be tied to some of the items he sells. Still, he's looking to the future.

"I know that none of us like to see the historical part of it being lost, but I also can look forward and see the positive side of updating and a little more modern facility, so I'm kind of excited to see what's coming, too."

"I think our square here and the courthouse is a unique thing that doesn't exist in a lot of places anymore, and I just hope that when they build the new courthouse that they, people of this county, and this community, are proud of it... The blend of the new courthouse, with these old historic buildings, the blending of the history and the new together could really make something special here," Drew says.

Sprague is afraid, because of the construction, people might think his and other nearby businesses are closed. He says that is not true and reminds visitors that parking is still available on the outside of the square.

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