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Berrien Springs Courthouse facts for kids

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Berrien Springs Courthouse
U.S. Historic district
Contributing property
Barrien Springs Courthouse.jpg
Berrien Springs Courthouse is located in Michigan
Berrien Springs Courthouse
Location in Michigan
Berrien Springs Courthouse is located in the United States
Berrien Springs Courthouse
Location in the United States
Location Corner of Union and Cass Sts., Berrien Springs, Michigan
Area less than one acre
Built 1838 (1838)
Built by James Lewis
Architect Gilbert Button Avery
Architectural style Greek Revival
Part of Old Berrien County Courthouse Complex (ID82004941)
NRHP reference No. 70000265
Added to NRHP February 16, 1970

The Berrien Springs Courthouse is a government building located at the corner of Union and Cass Streets in Berrien Springs, Michigan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. It is the oldest courthouse in Michigan. The building today is part of the History Center and Courthouse Square and is operated by the Berrien County Historical Association, and is part of the Old Berrien County Courthouse Complex.


Berrien County was first organized in 1831. However, the location of the county seat was in flux for the first few years, court being held first in Niles and then in St. Joseph. In 1837, it was moved to the more geographically central Berrien Springs. In 1838, Gilbert Button Avery, a local builder, designed this building to house the county court. Builder James Lewis was awarded a contract to erect the building for $2,500; construction was completed in 1839.

However, by the 1870s, the courthouse became too small to hold county records, and county residents of the more populous coastal towns grumbled about the poor transportation to Berrien Springs. By the early 1890s, the cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor came to an agreement about siting a new courthouse, and a county-wide vote was instituted, with the plan to move the courthouse prevailing. In 1894, the county seat was moved to St. Joseph.

The building was sold, and over the next few decades was used as an armory for the Berrien Springs Light Guard, as a center for community affairs and dancehall, and briefly as the campus of Andrews University. In 1922, the Seventh-day Adventists purchased the building and used it for religious services until 1966. Berrien County re-purchased the building in 1967 and restored the building.

Restoration was completed in the 1970s. The building today is part of the History Center ant Courthouse Square and is operated by the Berrien County Historical Association. It is used for plays, concerts, and weddings, and houses exhibits on Berrien County history.


The Berrien Springs Courthouse is a frame Greek Revival building on a high brick basement, measuring 41 feet by 61 feet over a high brick basement. The walls are clad with lapped siding; a wide cornice tops all walls and pilasters run up each corner. The gabled roof has a square cupola at the top. The building has a front portico supported by four 20-foot high fluted Doric columns. Ten multi-paned windows, each 15 feet high, line the courtroom.

On the interior, the main floor contains the courtroom and an entry foyer. A balcony is built over the courtroom. The basement once housed the law library, the recorder's office, and the supervisor's room.

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