Carthage Courthouse Square Historic District – Carthage, Missouri
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 37° 10.579 W 094° 18.625
15S E 383671 N 4115236
Quick Description: Mainly commercial historic district surrounding the Jasper County Courthouse in Carthage, Missouri.
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 4/13/2015 7:58:03 PM
Waymark Code: WMNPFE
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 0

Long Description:

Carthage's Courthouse Square is, as the name implies, a grouping of shops and stores, most of them with relatively unspoiled nineteenth-century facades, set in traditional Southern fashion around a courthouse. The courthouse today is surrounded by well manicured lawns, shaded by oak and maple trees, and is complemented and reflected by more than two dozen buildings constructed of the same gray stone; most of them were built around the turn of the century. This material, a light, almost white, stone with stylolitic veining, is popularly known as Carthage marble, and its extensive use on the square makes the city's commercial district exceptionally attractive. Despite a few intrusive modern banks and stores, and three or four instances where an old facade has been hidden by a modern false front, the Square has a distinctly nineteenth century flavor. Such other modifications as have been made generally have not touched the second story (most of the buildings contain only two stories) of the older buildings...

Carthage's Courthouse Square is significant in American architecture for several reasons. First, it superlatively illustrates the two major phases of post-Civil War commercial architecture brick Italianate and Romanesque Revival. In addition, the Square and its side streets contain unusual and beautiful examples of cast-iron ornamentation. Moreover, extensive use of Carthage marble provides continuity and an elegance that few cities of this size can rival, and gives this collection of buildings a cohesiveness based upon style as well as'contiguity.

Carthage was a late nineteenth-century boom town. Left devastated, its shops and dwellings burned to the ground in the Civil War's guerrilla warfare, the town contained only around a dozen families in 1866. By the end of 1869 there were about 1,800 inhabitants; the number grew to 5,315 in 1880 and 9,323 in 1890. Few American cities grew at this pace. Carthage owed its unusual growth to mining lead at first, then zinc. Railroads arrived on the heels of zinc mining, and the boom began for Carthage. After a workman discovered that the light-colored limestone so abundant in the area could take a high polish, quarries of Carthage marble, as the stone became known, added to local prosperity and provided an unusual architectural component for the entire city. Adjacent farm land, conducive to raising a type of wheat for the fine"'flour needed in cakes and pastries, brought five flour mills to the town and added to the general prosperity.

– National Register Nomination

Most of the buildings within the historic district are in good to excellent condition. Most of the storefronts have been modified over the years however the upper stories have been left unmodified thus the historic integrity of the district has been retained. Most of the commercial buildings remain in use and are well-maintained.

Street address:
Roughly bounded by E. Central Ave., S. Maple, Lincoln, and W. 5th Sts.
Carthage, Missouri


County / Borough / Parish: Jasper

Year listed: 1980

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Event

Periods of significance: 1875-1899; 1900-1924

Historic function: Commerce/Trade

Current function: Commerce/Trade

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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