Party marks 135th anniversary of historic Lake County Court House
BY CARRIE NAPOLEON Post-Tribune correspondent September 22, 2013 9:04PM
The historic Crown Point Courthouse celebrating 135 years at The Crown Point Courthouse on Sunday September 22, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 24, 2013 6:34AM
CROWN POINT — Pat Carden pored over scrapbooks of newspaper clippings documenting the story of the historic old Lake County Court House Sunday, hoping to come across references to her husband, a former city councilman.
“There are just so many memories here,” the Crown Point resident said. Her late husband, Jack Carden, sat on the city council for 16 years. Carden was one of hundreds who came out Sunday to celebrate the 135th anniversary of the Court House, constructed in 1878.
It was a chance to relive history through the scrapbooks and a rare glimpse inside the Lake Court House Foundation’s museum on the second floor, several rooms filled wall-to-wall with treasures from Lake County’s and the nation’s past. She was looking for articles and information on the “Cool Pool Capers,” a fund-raising campaign to construct Hub Pool, in which her husband participated.
Carden, like many of those who attended the celebration hosted by the Foundation, had not seen much of the inside of the building before and was enjoying the chance to view the historic collections.
Adeline Jerich of Merrillville also was taking advantage of the opportunity to peruse history and explore the building, including those areas typically not open to the public.
“I think it’s fascinating. This is my first time in the court house, except for getting my marriage license (in 1962),” Jerich said. She was looking through clippings of the John F. Kennedy assassination.
Jerich also wanted a chance to see a hometown hero, Col. Jerry Ross, an astronaut who was on hand to sign copies of his book and video. Ross was joined by internationally known hometown artist James Paul Brown, who was auctioning some of his work. Proceeds from both men’s efforts benefited the Court House Foundation.
Reenactors, including Dick and Laura Sauerman (she’s also a Crown Point City Council member), helped set the tone for the event, wandering the grounds in period costume and interacting with visitors. The couple was almost unrecognizable dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Solon Robinson.
“People walking around that we have known for years are walking by and not saying hello,” Laura Sauerman said with a laugh.
Dick Sauerman said the birthday celebration is a way to help generate interest in the historic court house with younger generations, so the effort to preserve the unique building lives on long into the future.
“There is a lot of curiosity about this building. It’s important that the younger generation see it,” he said.
Sisters Rachel Baker and Katherine Haan, both of Crown Point, brought their sons Benjamin Baker, 12, and Colton Haan, 2, to the court house for a dose of history and fun.
“I really wanted to see some of the rooms that aren’t usually open,” Rachel Baker said. They found a plaque with the name of Civil War soldier who shared Katherine Haan’s last name. Haan said her husband’s family has deep roots in Lake County and now she will have to investigate further to see if the soldier is in fact an ancestor.
Colton enjoyed the bounce house, but Benjamin said he enjoyed looking at all of the historic items in the building.
“It was interesting. I liked seeing all the old stuff, especially the Boy Scout stuff,” Benjamin, a Boy Scout himself, said.