Johnson County Courthouse: 2024 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois


401 Court St.
Vienna, Johnson County

Year built



Niles L. Wickwire

Current owner

Johnson County Government


(Photo credit: Colson Photography)

Why is this place important?

Until September 2023, the Johnson County Courthouse was the oldest continually operating courthouse in Illinois. The courthouse opened in 1871 and has been at the center of the Vienna community for generations. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it has undergone minimal alterations, leaving most of the 19th-century Italianate architecture intact. The building’s history and impressive design draw many tourists to the City of Vienna. Until the courthouse closed last year, it served as a civic centerpiece for the Vienna community.



Johnson County began construction in 2022 on a new county complex, which is set to open in 2024. Once complete, the county plans to move operations from the historic courthouse to the new one. The historic courthouse was to be repurposed for local businesses and offices for the state government and the local historical society. However, those reuse plans have stalled since a roof truss fractured in September 2023. All county offices vacated the structure at this time due to safety concerns. County officials authorized temporary stabilization of the fractured truss, but permanent stabilization and rehabilitation have not been prioritized due to a lack of funding.


(Photo credit: Brenda Kreuter)


Johnson County officials and citizens deserve credit for their intention to reuse the historic courthouse and honor its significance in the community. Those plans could move forward once permanent repairs are completed on the building as local advocates, such as the Johnson County Revitalization Corporation, Revive Vienna and Johnson County Historical Society are requesting.


(Photo credit: Colson Photography)


As a historic landmark, the Johnson County Courthouse must be saved. The Johnson County Revitalization Corporation is leading local preservation efforts through the “Save Our Courthouse” initiative. Other local initiatives are also helping bring awareness to the courthouse situation and fundraising efforts are underway. You can help the fundraising efforts with a tax-deductible donation.  Reach out to Johnson County Revitalization Corporation at


(Photo credit: Colson Photography)

Brenda Kreuter

Chair of Revive Vienna

“Some buildings are more than buildings. They are historic, cultural monuments. This Grand Old Lady has stood with beauty, dignity and pride since its beginning. Some of our ancestors stood with her then. She needs us to stand with her now as she awaits some much-needed and deserved repairs. Our beloved courthouse is a constant reminder of where we came from, and she should not be allowed to devolve into yet another lifeless building in our county.”


(Photo credit: Colson Photography)

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