Dating from about 1840, and standing on the site of what is now the new Christian County Sheriff's Department, was an unusual log house, built in the Temple Form Greek Revival style (although a most basic model). This house was featured in our Aug. 11, 2017 article, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Hiding in Plain Sight column. We think of it as the Cayce/Owen house, as it was occupied by Edgar Cayce's parents in 1893, and in recent memory owned and occupied by the Owen family. In 2017 it was acquired by the county and the house was torn down to make way for construction of the new sheriff's office.
The new sheriff's department is what my friend Dickie Faber used to refer to as "a ray of sunshine in a bad old world." It is quite a shiny new feather in the architectural cap of the Hopkinsville cityscape. The building is both old and new at the same time. Old in the sense that it bows to tradition with its narrow long windows and two-story portico, and new in the sense that it has clean, crisp, contemporary lines that will ensure that it does not begin to
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look dated anytime soon -- if ever. We can all be justifiably proud of this new kid on the block.
Designed by Rob Deal of the firm JRA Architects in Lexington, the new Sheriff's Office is stylistically (and intentionally) in keeping with its near neighbor the Christian County Justice Center, which is the product of Hopkinsville's JKS Architects.
This new building is indeed "an idea whose time has come," since the previous building occupied by the sheriff's department -- which was adapted for their use and not purpose built -- was quite obviously not sufficiently large to house the permanent staff of 37 people. In the new facility, every employee has his or her own workspace or office.
Several factors have combined to increase the number of employees of the sheriff's department over the years, not the least of which is the absorbing of the district court's police force into the sheriff's department. Prior to 2006, the fiscal court had its own police force, and after that function was taken on by the sheriff's department.
The building, which is actually two stories in the rear section, appears to be one story from the facade and was designed so that it looks good from any elevation. The architect Rob Deal adds "we had a four-sided building -- meaning that there was never an elevation that we could somehow discount as the back and less important than any other elevation." In true "form follows function" fashion, the building was initially broken down into the public area, business area, sheriff's department and detention area before the design could take shape.
The commodious training room is perhaps the crowning achievement of the design and is undoubtedly the most sophisticated in the western part of the state. This multipurpose room can also function as a reception area, theater, lecture space and dining facility -- with its attached kitchen.
"Your committee expressed to us more than once that the building needed to be timeless, with a monumentality that is appropriate for civic architecture," the architect said. "I would like to add that good design only comes from good clients. It takes many design options/versions to build a consensus and arrive at the final design solution."
Our fiscal court has done an admirable job, working with the architects to create this building that will be an admirable architectural landmark in the city for many years to come.
Join us in June when we once again plumb the depths of Hopkinsville's architectural past, present and future.
James B. Coursey's Hiding in Plain Sight column appears monthly in the Kentucky New Era. His column is researched jointly with County Historian William T. Turner. Reach James Coursey at 270-719-9462 or email him at email@example.com.