Racine County Courthouse

Racine County Courthouse
  1. About the Racine County Courthouse in Racine
    1. Building Catalogations
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectural style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Racine County Courthouse is an Art-deco skyscraper designed by Holabird & Root and built between 1930 and 1931, for a reported $1.50 million dollars, in Racine, WI.

Its precise street address is 730 Wisconsin Ave, Racine, WI. You can also find it on the map here.

The Racine County Courthouse is a structure of significant importance both for the city of Racine and the United States as a nation. The building embodies the distinctive characteristic features of the time in which it was built and the Art Deco style. Because of that, the Racine County Courthouse was officially included in the National Register of Historic Places on July 28th 1980.

The building underwent a major restoration in 1984.

Building's timeline

Design begins
Construction begins
Construction completed
Added to the NRHP
years ago
  1. 1984 - Restoration.

Architect and team

Holabird & Root was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

The studio was founded in Chicago in 1880, and even though it has changed names several times, the firm has evolved and is still active more than a century later.

The firm has played an important role in shaping the skyline of the windy city, and in the overall development of modern architecture in the United States.

The studio has evolved and adapted to the passage of time, from its rise with the Art Deco movement, to embracing the Modern style, and currently introducing sustainability into their designs.

Holabird Root

Holabird & Root was in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline involving many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the Racine County Courthouse a reality:

  • B-W Construction Co. as the Main Contractor
  • Carl Milles as the collaborating Artist

Architectural Style

The Racine County Courthouse can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The Racine County Courthouse was designed in 1928, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

The Racine County Courthouse reaches an architectural height of 157ft (48m). It has a total of 13 floors, 11 above ground and 2 basements, served by 1 elevators.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1931, the Racine County Courthouse has mainly been used as Governmental space.

157ft (48m)
2 basements

Materials & Structure

The Racine County Courthouse uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features smooth Bedford limestone with minimal ornamentation on the roofline capping the pilasters.

Other materials found at the Racine County Courthouse include, marble, found cladding the walls of the main lobby, bronce, used for the elevator doors, and australian and english oak wood, african mahogany and walnut woods, used in to panel the courtroom walls.