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Rapides Parish Courthouse

Rapides Parish Courthouse

The Rapides Parish Courthouse is typical of a courthouse designed under the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) Program, most of which are characteristic of the masculine, streamlined Art Deco style. It was constructed as the extravagance of the Art Deco style dwindled in popularity due to the austerity that emerged with the advent of World War II. The structure exhibits Art Deco elements with Stripped Classicism, a style that combined modernity with classical forms and very little ornamentation — a common form for governmental buildings designed between the World Wars. This seven-story courthouse was built to replace the 1903 Beaux-Arts style courthouse on 3rd St. after its thirty-six years of service. It was designed by C. Errol Barron, Charles T. Roberts, Edward F. Neild, D. A. Sondal, and Edward F. Neild, Jr., with construction completed by James T. Taylor. It is clad with smooth limestone, giving it a cohesive and monumental appearance. It is designed as a towering angular structure, composed of rectangular shapes, the sleek exterior broken only by deeply set vertical bands of windows, divided by dark, rectangular panels and long unornamented squared pilasters. The only exterior ornamentation is seen in the front doors and the two reliefs that flank the front entrance: a blind woman representing Justice with scales and an old man with a scroll and book representing Wisdom. The front doors are Art Deco in style with a geometric motif. In the mid-1970s the courthouse was remodeled and a four-story annex and jail were constructed on the adjacent lot. The Brutalist annex contains a covered parking garage, and is connected to the courthouse by a skybridge on the second, third, and fourth floors across Johnston Street. The Confederate Monument in the front of the Rapides Courthouse once stood in the yard of the 1909 City Hall building, where it was originally dedicated in 1914. It was erected by the Thomas Overton Moore Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy. The statue was moved when the Old City Hall was demolished.

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