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Bar association passes resolution to recommend new courthouse for Highland County

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, the headline is 100-percent correct. By a unanimous vote, the Highland County Bar Association passed a formal resolution to recommend that Highland County put the oldest continuous use in the state of Ohio out to pasture and build a new one.

In its resolution, the group also recommended a bond issue be put before Highland County voters to fund a new courthouse.

A spokesperson for the group, comprised of attorneys and judges throughout the county, added that the local bar association is mainly concerned at the present with calling attention to the condition of the present structure and to get “people to thinking about it.”

Highland County’s present courthouse opened in 1834, and the local bar association said it does not favor remodeling or building additions to the structure, adding a committee would be appointed to promote the project of a new courthouse.

Even though the bar association made its resolution formal, members of the group previously met with county commissioners last summer to discuss the current courthouse and the possibility of tearing it down in favor of constructing a new one.

Now, “last summer” wasn’t really last summer. Well, I guess it was in the year of our Lord 1960 – nearly six decades ago.

Yes, back in early 1960, community leaders – ones who actually worked in the Highland County Courthouse, in fact – passed a formal resolution by unanimous vote, putting the Highland County Bar Association on record as favoring the submission to the voters of the county a bond issue to erect a new courthouse.

Of course, that didn’t happen, and Ohio’s courthouse in continuous use, capped with a golden dome, still stands proudly at the intersection of U.S. 50 and U.S. 62 in uptown Hillsboro. In fact, 18 years after the story quoted above rolled off the presses, the courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 24, 1978.

Sometimes, I wish other local structures that have met the wrecking ball could have shared a similar fate of getting another chance. Even though technology is so much better than it was 20-, 50- or 100-plus years ago, we just don’t build things like we used to “back in the day.”

Naturally, the old Hillsboro High School building off of West Main Street that was still a school just a decade ago comes to mind, but there are others I wish could have been preserved.

Like the old Washington School. Not the Washington School I attended decades ago, but the one that was built in the late 1800s (1897, I believe) and was gutted and renovated in the late 1950s. The one that was Hillsboro High School before the Hillsboro High School that was torn down in close to a decade ago in 2009 was constructed in 1934.

If I had a time machine, I’d love to go back and go through that beautiful edifice in its heyday. It would be an added bonus if it was in the 1930s or early 1940s when my granddad, Wesley Roush, was a young principal of Washington.

The old Webster School had a similar fate. There was an original Webster, called Union School before it was renamed Webster, that was an impressive three-story structure with a bell tower that was built in 1868. Webster was also “renovated” around 1954 where they built the Webster school I attended around the old Webster, then tore the old Webster down, except for an annex that was constructed in 1888. Of course, the “new” Webster is
also gone, and only green grass grows where the school once stood at the corner of West Walnut and South Elm streets.

The older generation might remember the old Hillsboro fire station that stood on the corner of West Walnut and South High streets that burned down a long, long time ago. My dad tells me he thinks it happened around 1948 and that Hillsboro made the news because the waterworks facility also burned down the same year.

I could go on, but I’ll pause for now and leave you fine folks with a question. What structures do you miss and wish had been preserved? I’d like to know.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company, is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees and is a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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