Cambria County Courthouse

EBENSBURG, CAMBRIA COUNTY --- At the heart of downtown Ebensburg, and county government, is the Cambria County courthouse.  Originally built in 1808, it's undergone four major changes in the last 200 years.  The current 3 1/2 story courthouse was built for a mere $100,000 in 1880.  County commissioner P.J. Stevens says he's reminded of the rich history on a daily basis.  

"It's a humbling experience to work here everyday and walk these halls.  It keeps me grounded in my purpose and my mission to provide good, fair, and forthright government to the people of Cambria County," Stevens said.

In the early 1920's the courthouse underwent some major renovations.  Courtroom number one was added.  The 500 seat, two story courtrooms featured auditorium style seating.  85 years later, it's still one of the ten largest courtrooms in the country. 

"The courthouse I believe is very symbolic of the sacrifices and hard work of the men and women who not only founded the county, but those who work hard to sustain it today," Stevens said.

Sustaining the courthouse included another round of renovations.  In 1992 commissioners decided to restore to 112 year old main entrance.  In addition to improving the appearance, they needed to make it handicapped accessible.  That included adding automated front doors and heated ramps leading to the entrance.  But the final price tag came in at ten times more than expected.  President Judge Gerard Long came up with a simple solution.  He proposed using inmates at the county prison to do the work.  The prison labor idea was adopted, and the county saved millions of dollars.  The hard work of those inmates and countless others is still evident today. 

"The building is a treasure.  I would encourage anyone coming to visit to come and experience it for themselves, it's awesome," Stevens said.

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