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Constructed in 1854, this structure was the second courthouse building located on this site and is the oldest extant structure in Tompkins County. The building is situated directly adjacent to First Presbyterian Church. The courthouse was designed with elements of the Gothic Revival style with notable features that include the open-timber roof and the three-story tower. The building served as the home of the county government until 1923 when the current courthouse was completed. Today, the building is used by the Tompkins County Legislature.


  • The Second Tompkins Courthouse was built in 1854. The most notable exterior feature of this building is a three-story tower that contains a belfry with a pointed-arched opening similar to bell towers that appear in many churches.

Tompkins County was established in 1817 and is named in honor of Daniel Tompkins, the fourth governor of New York who served as Vice President under James Monroe. Tompkins ran for a second term as governor following his term as Vice President but was defeated by DeWitt Clinton. Having extended his personal fortune to pay and equip troops in the War of 1812, Tompkins faced financial insecurity and later succumbed to depression and alcoholism.   

Jacobs, Stephen. "Old Courthouse." National Parks Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. March 18, 1971.  https://s3.amazonaws.com/NARAprodstorage/lz/electronic-records/rg-079/NPS_NY/71000562.pdf.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons