Monday, January 19, 2009
The Aging Courthouse
Broward County, created in 1915, honors one of Florida's more colorful characters, Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward.
Broward was actually predated by Dania, which became the area's first incorporated community in 1904, followed by Pompano in 1908 and Fort Lauderdale in 1911.
Appropriately, given the county's southern location, Broward was one of the foremost proponents of "reclaiming" the Everglades.
The county seat is Ft. Lauderdale, named for Major William Lauderdale, a veteran of the Seminole Wars.
The town grew up around the site of a fort that was established around 1838.
The black and white picture above right, was Broward County's second courthouse, and was constructed in 1926-8 at a cost of $500,000. The tower was 90 feet in height and contained a two-bedroom apartment for the jailer, located directly beneath "a bell so loud that it could be heard throughout most of Ft. Lauderdale."
Adding to the aggravation, writes Sun-Sentinel history columnist Stuart McIver, the jailer's responsibilities included keeping the bell wound.
Additions were made to the courthouse in 1947 and 1956, but it was razed in 1960 to make way for what McIver considers "an undistinguished multi-story structure."
The bell did survive and is preserved in the lobby of the new courthouse.