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Allegany County Courthouse
Photograph by Kathleen McKenney, courtesy of the City of Cumberland

Allegany County Courthouse tower
Photograph by Kathleen McKenney, courtesy of the City of Cumberland

Although many church spires dot the Cumberland landscape, it is the Allegany County Courthouse that dominates this city's skyline. The building is prominently sited along Washington Street, which rises sharply from Willis Creek running through the heart of Cumberland. Historically, courthouses in America have been one of the most architecturally impressive buildings within a community. In this way, the architecture of the building was able to convey the authority of a local government, as well as instill respect and recognition.

Designed in 1893, the Courthouse was the first major commission of local architect Wright Butler. Butler based his design for this public building on the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style. The massing and detail of the Courthouse are typical of this late 19th-century style, developed from the works of architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Characteristic of this style, the Courthouse combines the use of brick highlighted with stone belt courses and presents a uniform rock-faced exterior finish. The building's ribbons of windows set deeply into the walls, and large arched entry are also typical Richardsonian features. Less typical is the Courthouse's tower buttressed with round columns that rises above the three-story building. One of the pinnacle examples of a H. H. Richardson's work is the Alleghany County Courthouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which Cumberland's Courthouse strongly resembles.


The Allegany County Courthouse is located at 30 Washington St., and is a contributing building to the Washington Street Historic District. Portions of the building are open to the public during regular business hours.

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