Property: Ingham County Courthouse, Courthouse Square, Mason

Civic institutions located in easily accessible places have the ability to drive economic development. These buildings and their public spaces can be thriving places of commerce. Adjacent businesses benefit from the steady stream of residents to and from the public building, encouraging local economies and these spaces to thrive. 

All too often, such buildings are now at the fringes of the community to support larger facilities at lower costs. They are relegated to a civic complex with an atmosphere reminiscent of an industrial park. And for what? A short-term solution with long-term consequences. Case in point: the village of Charlotte.

Fortunately, many communities in mid-Michigan have been slow to follow this model. Although there are examples — particularly schools — that have fallen victim to this practice, it is the civic institutions and their public spaces like the Ingham County Courthouse in Mason that are models of best practice. 

Designed by the architect Edwyn A. Bowd, it stands at Courthouse Square in the center of Mason. This Beaux Arts-style, 20th century building succeeded an earlier courthouse located in the same square — a lesson emphasizing the importance of place.