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Holloway, Charles Allen County Courthouse, 1902


Charles Holloway was born in 1859 in Philadelphia and moved to St.Louis early in his life where he was first known both as an artist and teacher. He continued his work, serving as a student and night school assistant to Carl Gutherz at the St. Louis School of Art in the early 1880’s and may have accompanied Gutherz to Paris where both studied and worked in the mid 1880’s.

In 1888, Holloway returned to the United States and won a competition in Chicago to paint the mural on the proscenium arch of the new Auditorium Theater built by Louis Sullivan Dankmar Adler. He received many other commissions in Chicago including the 1892 design for a symbol that would represent Chicago’s energy and spirit, the “I Will” logo that appeared widely during the Columbia Exposition.

With living in Chicago, Holloway was a colleague of the literati including George Ade and John T. McCutcheon and he was selected to execute a large mural for the proscenium arch of Chicago’s Steinway Hall (1897) and another for the U.S. District Court in Milwaukee (1898) and a third for the Court House in Upper Sandusky, Ohio (1898).

Holloway was a member of the Muralist Painters and exhibited at the Paris Exposition in 1900, where he was awarded the Gold Medal for Achievement in the execution of decorative painting and stained glass designs.

His major contribution was the mural, painting and stained glass commission for the Allen County Courthouse in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Following the completion of that project, he went forward to work with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1902, designing the stained glass at the reconstruction of the Laboratory Building of the Keeley Institute in Dwight, Illinois. In 1907, he was again hired by the W.H. Anderson Company to execute major murals in the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, South Dakota. Other murals include those painted for the Peoria, Illinois City Building.

In 1911, Holloway returned to the Allen County Courthouse to undertake the retouching and repair of the Rotunda Murals, which had begun to fade in the sunlight that streamed in through the dome’s stained glass ceiling. At that time, he was engaged to undertake a large commission to paint murals for the Studebaker Company in South Bend, Indiana which today is part of the school corporation’s administrative building.

Charles Holloway also created murals for the Court of Palms at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, held in San Francisco in 1915.After decades of distinguished work as a noted mural painter, Holloway died on January 28, 1941 in Chicago. His murals, decorative paintings and stained glass have been recently restored by the Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust.

More than 100 years ago, community leaders convinced taxpayers to erect the grandest of courthouses to better serve this growing county and to …anticipate the needs of the county for a least a century. Due to the vision of our forefathers, the Allen County Courthouse remains one of the most significant courthouses of its era in the nation. It is one of 37 United States National Historic Landmarks in the State of Indiana.

Designed by Brentwood S. Tolan and begun in 1897, the Allen County Courthouse was completed in 1902 in the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, it stands as a monument to the civic pride and progressive spirit of the citizens of Allen County, expressing in art and architecture the dignity of the government, the supremacy of the people, and the importance of the law.

Strategically positioned just above the activity of the public, these are historical and symbolic murals painted by prominent artist such as Charles Holloway, Florian Piexotto, and Carl Gutherz, and represent images of War, Peace, Justice, and Despotism.

Some Points To Consider

  • Find the design components that make this architectural style Beaux Arts (Art 4.3.1)
  • Research the criteria used in determining that the Allen County Courthouse deserved a National Historic Landmark Award. List other buildings that received such distinction and discuss why it is important to maintain architecture from all eras. (Art 4.4.1)
  • Q Analyze what design elements the architect used to achieve unity. (Art 4.3.2)