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TV show highlights Armstrong County courthouse's history

| Thursday, May 30, 2013, 9:43 p.m.
Armstrong County Commissioner Robert T. Bower hosting the introduction for Armstrong County’s Feature on PCN series Pennsylvania’s Historic County Courthouses. SUBMITTED

KITTANNING — The Armstrong County Courthouse is unique in terms of its history and style, so much so that on Wednesday it became the subject of a television series.

The series, “Pennsylvania's Historic County Courthouses,” was created by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) and is expected to air on PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network) in late July or early August.

Armstrong County Commissioner Robert T. Bower hosted the show, leading the film crew on a tour through the courthouse and into the old historic jail.

Kevin Andrews, director of the county's tourist bureau, said he discovered a lot of interesting facts about the courthouse during the tour.

“This was the first time I had been in many of the areas of the courthouse,” said Andrews.

He said the old jail, which was built in 1871, is connected to the courthouse by a walkway and has a unused area called the hole where chains still hang from the wall.

In a press release sent on Wednesday afternoon, Andrews noted that Judge James J. Panchik also hosted a segment of the show in the courtrooms and told the history of several prominent county judges.

Bower said on Thursday that the tourist bureau had submitted an application to be featured in the series and the Armstrong County Courthouse was one of five chosen throughout the Commonwealth. A previous series, featuring 11 other courthouses, was so successful that a second series was soon in the works.

Bower said the courthouse, with its mix of Greek and Gothic Revival architecture, was built on the site of the previous courthouse which burned down in 1856.

The first county courthouse, which predated both those structures, was built at the southeast corner of Market and Jefferson streets in 1809.

A fire-damaged bell, marked O.S. Bell Co., of Hillsboro, Ohio, was found in the attic of the current courthouse, said Bower.

He said it's possible that the bell could have been used in one or both of the two previous structures.

However, he said, there is no proof to back up the assertion.

He said there are plans to refurbish the bell and put it on display. The current bell in use at the courthouse today is an A. Fulton bell, from Pittsburgh.

For updates on Armstrong County and the show visit www.armstrongcounty.com or www.facebook.com/armstrongcountytouristbureau.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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