‘On the broad and beautiful avenue, Lake Street, in Elmira, there arises in beauty and grandeur one of the most magnificent edifices in the State. It will reflect honor on the ermine, the county and its architect and builder. With lofty tower it looks as majestic as those castles whence barons of old issued forth in defense of ‘injured lady love.’ We allude to the New Court House, Horatio Nelson White as architect and David Wilcox of Syracuse as builder.’ These are the words of an Elmira correspondent for the Buffalo Courier, written July 6, 1861, describing the new Chemung County Courthouse. The building was completed in 1862, at a cost of $20,458.34, furnished and ready for use.
The Anglo-Norman style courthouse, which has been in continuous use in Elmira since 1862, is a beautiful structure of red brick, hard burned, and scabbled dressed limestone. It was called ‘an architectural jewel’ in 1966 by Harley J. Mckee, a professor of architecture at Syracuse University. The cornice is elegant, and together with the foundation walls, projects massiveness and durability. The facade on Lake Street is supported by large stone pillars, from which spring heavy brick arches. The angles of the building project from the northern and southern sides, giving the appearance of towers or buttresses, the southeastern angle rising into a well proportioned square tower, containing the bell, with open brick arches and stone pediments. The tower affords a fine, comprehensive view of the city and its surrounding hills.
Source: Judge Peter C. Buckley and History of Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins and Schuyler Counties, New York: Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers, Philadelphia: Everts and Ensign (1879).