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Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to be featured in TV series

Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - The inside of the dome at the Westmoreland County Courthouse on March 6, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The inside of the dome at the Westmoreland County Courthouse on March 6, 2014.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review - The rotunda at the Westmoreland County Courthouse on March 6, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sean Stipp  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The rotunda at the Westmoreland County Courthouse on March 6, 2014.

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Courthouse facts

• Part of the Downtown Greensburg Historic District

• Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978

• One of the tallest structures in Greensburg at 175 feet above street level

• Designed by William Kauffman in a Beaux Arts style

Dome design used on only one other building, a courthouse in British Columbia

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, March 10, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

In the 1900s, visitors to Westmoreland County's courthouse stepped in to see a grand staircase that splits into two spirals.

A gaze up to the top of those staircases, carpeted in deep red, took in the century-old Greensburg structure's intricately detailed dome ceiling.

While the main entrance in later years shifted to a different location, the original portion of the building remains a favorite feature that visitors pause to appreciate.

“I think it's a very impressive entranceway,” said Commissioner R. Tyler Courtney. “It's just beautiful, so majestic.”

The four-story granite courthouse and its marble-covered interior will be featured on the Pennsylvania Cable Network in 2015 as part of a series featuring county courthouses from across the state.

Courtney nominated Westmoreland County in January and recently learned the building has been chosen for an episode next year.

“I'm very proud of the courthouse,” Courtney said. “I think it symbolizes Westmoreland County.”

Part-time county employee Myrna McCloskey, who has been conducting tours of the courthouse since 1979, will show the camera crews around. The original portion of the complex is her favorite.

“The architecture's just fantastic,” she said.

Built in 1906, the courthouse has an Italian Renaissance-style dome topped with an American flag. The interior of the dome is painted with floral arabesques and gold leaf.

Walls and ceilings in the rotunda are adorned with Renaissance-patterned mosaics and globular chandeliers.

Each of the nine courtrooms — four are original — are decorated differently, some with similar artistry as the dome ceiling and others with oak paneling and oil portraits. The original structure, built for $1.6 million, was restored in 1980 at a cost of $6.8 million, according to the county's application for the PCN program.

The original structure contains offices pertaining to the court system. An annex building, dedicated in 1979, houses county offices for many departments, including the commissioners, attorneys, Register of Wills, Prothonotary and Recorder of Deeds.

The main entrance is now through the annex building. The original entry is closed.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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