Knox County Courthouse - Rockland, Maine
The following excerpt is reprinted by permission from The Courthouses of Maine, Robert K. Sloane, Senior Editor.
The County Courthouse
Knox County, the newest of Maine’s counties, is already over
100 years old. The history of the buildings used by the court
has been well documented since the county’s establishment in
1860. The present courthouse is unique in Maine for its diverse
tenants: it rents interior space to a private engineering firm, and the courtroom has been used twice as a set for producing movies.
The Knox County Courthouse opened on March 9, 1875. The exterior
of the building was impressive in its Italianate design. A
half story base of granite supported the brick building and required
a flight of stairs to the entrance, covered by an elegant portico
supported by Doric columns. A Palladian window above the portico
looked out onto a little balcony surrounded by a granite balustrade
around the flattened portion of the hipped roof, a cupola and a pointed
weather vane. The sides of the building were graced by the
two-story windows, which provided light for the courtroom. Surrounding
the roof line was a heavy cornice with an iron balustrade around
chimneys on each side with two on the front facade completed
Today, the Knox County Courthouse retains much of its early design
and dignity. In the courtroom, around the ceiling of the room
is a continuous stencil including at intervals the words “Hope,” “Honor,” “Faith,” “Charity,” “Prudence” and “equality.” Above
the judge’s bench is the word “Justice.” The
courtroom displays several paintings of judges who have occupied
the bench. Film companies have twice come to the courthouse. The
first film was the movie, Peyton Place, filmed in the courtroom
and in Camden. The second in 1995-1996 was the movie, Thinner, based
on a book by Stephen King.
In 1978 a substantial addition to the building was constructed to house the district court, the Registry of Deed, a law library and offices for the superior court clerk. The Knox County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its nomination includes the following citation:
“This massive structure characterized the gravity and authority which is associated with government affairs. Municipal architecture, which captures the spirit and translated it into a building form, is rare. As an early and well-designed example of this tradition, the Knox county Courthouse holds an important place in Maine architecture.