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Italianate with Renaissance and Baroque Features
Venango County Courthouse - 1168 Liberty Street

Our Venango County Courthouse is traditionally described as Italianate style, but to call this magnificent building Italianate is an understatement. While it does show characteristics of the restrained Italianate style, that is, as a simple style from the Italian countryside characterized by a low-pitched roof, wide projecting eaves supported by brackets, wide decorative cornices and narrow arch-headed windows and doors. Yes, it is all of that, but much, much more.

First, the base of the central pavilion is made of white cut stones with strongly emphasized recessed joints and smooth block faces. Often rustication such as this is used in banks, palaces and courthouses to create an appearance of impregnability. Such rustication is common to the Renaissance style. Another characteristic of the Renaissance style is that the street level is used for everyday activities, while the second level is used for more formal functions. This courthouse follows this tradition since working functions can be dealt with on the first floor, while the more formal judicial activities are located on the second floor.

The white stone quoins surrounding the ground floor windows of the flanking bays are also common to the Italian Renaissance style. The white string course, a decorative band separating the first and second floor of the corner bays is also found on many Renaissance buildings.

The signature architectural feature of this Victorian era courthouse, completed in 1869, are the two massive flamboyant white towers that dominate the building.
The stretched, elongated towers on their asymmetrical bases are a reflection of the Baroque influence within Victorian style.

The Venango County Courthouse is the focal point of our award winning Main street. The Courthouse and the two parks that flank it is the signature piece of architecture not only because of its own particular beauty, but as a centerpiece for community festivals, activities and concerts.

The architectural and historical significance of the Venango County Courthouse is recognized by its listing on the National Register of Historic Places.


brackets - Repeated decorative elements beneath the eaves, often placed on a cornice. Or any overhanging member projecting from an wall that supports weight.

cornice - An ornamental molding at the meeting of a roof or ceiling and the wall. It may consist of a fascia, soffit and crown molding.

rusticated - Having cut stones with strongly emphasized recessed joints and smooth or roughly textured block faces. Often used in banks, palaces and courthouses to create an appearance of impregnability.

Renaissance style - Places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts as they are demonstrated in the architecture of classical antiquity and in particular ancient Roman architecture

Baroque - A style of late Roman building characterized by stretched oval pear-shaped forms, the opulent use of color and ornaments and a visual statement of wealth and power.