Sometimes you only have time to catch a brief glimpse of something really interesting.

This was the case for us in Noblesville, Indiana.

We'd visited town one afternoon for lunch, but a driving rain prevented us from being able to explore the downtown area or taking any decent photos.

I managed to get this quick grab shot of the Hamilton County Courthouse while I was huddled beneath the awning of a store across the street that day.


We didn't have a lot of time the next day, but we managed to make the trip back to Noblesville to capture a few images the historic downtown with its lovingly restored commercial district and courthouse.


Settlers established Hamilton County in 1823, naming it after Alexander Hamilton, the United States' first Secretary of the Treasury.

William Conner was one of the area's first settlers, establishing the state's first trading post here in 1802 and living in the first log cabin in the area. Conner helped lay out the town of Noblesville, and his 1823-vintage house now sits at the Conner Prairie in nearby Fishers.

Noblesville became the county seat in 1824 and the coming of the railroad spurred its early growth.

The next big growth spurt for the town came in the late 1880s with the discovery of natural gas wells in the area. The many large Victorian-style homes and commercial buildings in the downtown courthouse square area built at this time are what give Noblesville the historic character visitors enjoy today.


The Noblesville Courthouse Square earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The historic commercial district includes 54 buildings in an area roughly bounded by Clinton, Maple, 8th and 10th Streets and centered by the courthouse square.

The courthouse is a classic Second Empire-style building with a clock tower and the mansard roof common to the era. Indianapolis architect Edwin May, remembered best for his courthouse designs and design work of the Indiana State House, designed the Hamilton County Courthouse in the late 1870s.


This courthouse was surely a far cry from the county's original courthouse, which was a one-story frame building built in 1830, or the county's first brick courthouse, erected for less than $4,000 during the mid-1830s.

A 1993 renovation of current courthouse's interior included all of the corridors and public spaces, including the total renovation of the court's historic two-story courtroom for historic tours and other events on the second floor.


The nearby Hamilton County Museum of History (also with a mansard roof) dates from 1876 and originally served as the sheriff's residence and Hamilton County jail.


The museum wasn't open during our visit, and we didn't have a lot of time before we were due at our next stop, so we had to content ourselves with wandering around downtown and taking a few photos of the historic buildings there.


We had fun checking out the signs posted on the buildings throughout the downtown historic district to learn a bit about Noblesville.


It's definitely a place we'd love to explore on a return visit!  

Want to learn more about Noblesville? Check out the soon-to-be-released Noblesville (Images of America) by Nancy A. Massey and Carol Ann Schweikert.

Thanks to the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau for sponsoring my visit to Hamilton County, providing lodging, meals and a tour of Hamilton County attractions for my review during my recent visit there, with no further compensation. I was free to express my own opinions about the stay and experiences, and the opinions expressed here are mine.

© Dominique King 2013 All rights reserved