CORVALLIS - A profile of 21 historic courthouses in Oregon - from the Clatsop County building in Astoria which survived a fire in 1922, to the stately stone structure of Wallowa County in Enterprise - is the focus of a new book published by the Oregon State University Press.

"Exploring Oregon's Historic Courthouses" was written by Kathleen M. Wiederhold, a Portland author who spent nearly 20 years researching historic buildings and town histories. Her book does both.

Combining local history with rare and valuable information on Oregon's architectural history, "Exploring Oregon's Historic Courthouses" is an interesting look at often-overlooked historical sites. Because courthouses are "working buildings" open to the public, Wiederhold says, they sometimes are ignored for their historical significance.

Readers will be able to contrast the buildings, from the flamboyant pink, white and gold pressed-metal ceiling of the courtroom in the Polk County courthouse - known to locals as the Sistine Chapel of Polk County - to the mysterious marked tiles in the Baker County Courthouse, to the most accessible clock tower in the state, located at the Crook County Courthouse.

In its profile of 21 courthouses, the book examines the history of the county seat and looks at the county seat today. It also provides a history of the courthouse and details its modern-day use as well.

Wiederhold is not only a history buff, she loves courthouses and has an extensive collection of courthouse memorabilia, says Tom Booth, marketing director for the OSU Press. Her car's vanity plates, in fact, read "CT HAUS" and she has a web site dedicated to Oregon courthouses (

Courthouses profiles include those in the following counties: Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Harney, Morrow, Sherman, Wallowa, Wasco and Wheeler.

The book is available from book stores and libraries, or can be ordered by calling 1-800-426-3797.

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Tom Booth, 503-282-9801