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The present Dorchester County Courthouse in Cambridge, Maryland is the third to be built in the city and the second on this site. Built in 1852, the Italianate structure replaced its predecessor which was destroyed by fire. Around the time this courthouse was built, many architectural styles from the past were being revived. This, though, is the only example of Italian villa based design in Cambridge.
The courthouse was designed by renowned Boston architect Richard Upjohn. Upjohn, through his designs for many churches, was partially responsible for helping popularize Gothic Revival architecture in the United States. Upjohn was also responsible for making the Italian style popular. He used the Italianate style to differentiate between his religious and secular work. Dorchester County Courthouse was Upjohn’s only courthouse and one of only a few buildings designed by Upjohn in Maryland.
As can be clearly seen in the image here, the facade of the courthouse is divided into three nearly equal sections. Each of these, though, is entirely different. The central section with its three arches and double wooden doors is flanked by two towers. What is unusual here is that the two towers are not the same. The north tower is three stories whilst the south is only two. Both towers are identical up to just below the cornice of the south tower. The extra floor on the north tower together with the different design of the windows suggests that this part had a different function to the lower floors. Many have speculated on this difference, including in the Nomination Form for the National Register of Historic Places, but I have not found anything to explain what this may have been.
Mainly due to its association with Richard Upjohn, the Dorchester County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.