Knox County Courthouse - Rockland, MaineImage of Knox County Courthouse

 

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 Image of Knox County 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 it.  Four chimneys on each side with two on the front facade completed the design.

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.