The courthouse was burned on December 13, 1894 by an arsonist; an incident that was recounted in the poem "Silas Dement," in the Spoon River Anthology:
"It was moonlight, and the earth sparkled
With new-fallen frost...
And I crawled under the roof and amid the rafters
And flung among the seasoned timbers
A lighted handfull of oil-soaked waste...
And the Spoon River ladder company
Came with a dozen buckets and began to pour water
On the glorious bon-fire, growing hotter
Higher and brighter, till the walls fell in
And the limestone columns were Lincoln stood
Crashed like trees when the woodman fells them."
Abraham Lincoln stood between these columns to give his much quoted "Return to the Fountain" speech.
Two of the columns from the burned courthouse were re-erected in the Oak Hill Cemetery in front of the Civil War Monument.
Submitter: Max Latimer