119 South Pitt Street · Mercer, Pennsylvania 16137 · 724-662-3490

Courthouse Construction

. . . As the job of removing all traces of the old structure neared completion work on surveying the ground and excavating for the new foundation began. A serious problem was thought to have developed when soft ground was encountered at what would be the southeast corner of the new building. As luck would have it, further examination and tests revealed a firm bed of clay twelve feet down upon which the foundation could safely rest. During the summer, as the cleanup and surveying work continued, the architects were busy completing the detailed drawings necessary for potential contractors to base their bids upon. By late August the plans were complete and provided for a building 180′ x 92′ which was a compromise between the original specification of a 200′ length and the reduced 160′ length the outgoing Board of Commissioners had suggested. The structure was to be topped by a dome 166′ high and was expected to cost $325,000.00. On September 18th, 1908 it was reported that Owsley and Boucherle had sent out forty copies of the plans and expected thirty contractors to submit bids which were to be opened on September 21st. In typical Western Press tongue-in-cheek fashion, editor Whistler offered an entertaining front page account of the opening of the bids. In it he poked good-natured fun at numerous members of the Mercer County Bar including ” Attorney Baker, (who had) an alarming predisposition to baldness” and “Attorney Campbell, rotund and oleaginous, (who) rolled across the bar.” Besides his written caricature of the worthies in attendance, Whistler did find space to list the bids for the superstructure, plumbing, heating and electrical wiring. Sixteen general contractors submitted bids for the superstructure, ranging from $324,100.00 to $391,924.00 – the lowest bidder being the firm of Luyster and Lowe of Dayton, Ohio. In addition, nine bids were received for the heating portion of the construction, seven for the plumbing and five for the electrical wiring. The new Court House drew bidders from as far away as Chicago and Indiana as well as companies from Cleveland, Columbus, Philadelphia, Altoona, Pittsburgh and New Castle. Three general contractors from MercerCounty were also contenders -Wallis & Carley, William McIntyre & Sons and F. J. McCain. Whistler’s account ended in typical fashion: Treasurer Zahniser found himself in possession of certified checks payable to his order-as required by the Commissioners of bidders in their tender...
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The Underground Railroad in Mercer!

     According to notice given, the Mercer County Anti Slavery Society, met at the Court House, in the borough of Mercer, on the 22nd ult., and was opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Wilson of West Greenville.  An appropriate address was delivered by the Rev. G.W. Clark of Mercer.      On motion, Resolved, that the address of Mr. Clark be published in the papers of this county, and that Messrs. Wm. M. Smith and William F. Junkins, and James Kilgore, be a committee to superintend the publication. On motion of Mr. Junkin it was resolved, that the Mercer County Anti Slavery Society, become auxiliary to the American Anti Slavery Society.  (The motion according to a clause in the constitution was laid over to be acted on the next regular meeting.) On the motion of the Rev. Wilson, it was Resolved,  That this meeting adjourn to meet in this place on the 21st day of April next at 1 o’clock P.M.: And that all the societies in the county be requested to send delegates to the adjourned meeting. JOHN HOGE, President James Kilgore, Secretary   A NOTE To William M. Smith, William F. Junkin, James Kilgore Gentlemen – At your request the address delivered before the Anti-Slavery Society, on the 22nd ult., has been prepared for the press.  The principle matter has been preserved, though some different arrangement has been made, some topics abridged, and others enlarged as appeared proper when committing it to paper.  No apology is necessary for the changes that has been made in the phraseology, and illustration employed, which, from its extemporassous character of the address it is found neither convenient nor desirable to retain. Respectfully, &c., G.W. Clark   Anti-Slavery Address “Honour all men” – 1 Peter 2:17       These words of the Apostle Peter have been selected as a motto for my present remarks, because from the authority on which the command is received, it must be regarded as based on a first principle on morals, intimately connected with the doctrine of human rights. There is something quite peculiar in these brief statements of duty, which meet the eye with such frequency in the New Testament. They all point silently, but touchingly to the benevolent regards man should cherish for his species, are full of a more than human kindness. They are the dictates of a morality to which the world was before...
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