Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

What City is This?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 6, 2014



Update: January 6: A reader from Virginia notes that the structure with the tower looks a lot like the Old Northampton County Courthouse in Easton, Pennsylvania. It sure does. Perhaps more indicative, the structure immediately to the left of it matches the original entrance to the Northampton County Prison, next door. The prison was completed in 1871, which would date this image to sometime after that. If this identification is correct, and I believe it is, this view is looking roughly southwest from the hill where part of Lafayette College now stands, overlooking Bushkill Creek and Highway 22, the Lehigh Valley Thruway.

Well done! Thanks!


The Library of Congress has this image identified as Richmond, Virginia, and I’m pretty certain that’s wrong. Although there are some broad similarities between Richmond and the town in the photograph, the details are all wrong. Civil War-era images of Richmond are full of easily-identifiable landmarks, but none match this town. Folks who actually live in Richmond seem to agree — it’s not their city.

So what town is it? You can view a high-res version here. We discussed this over at Civil War Talk, and ran through a lot of possibilities — Vicksburg, Memphis, Nashville, Petersburg — none of them has a match for the building on the hill at left. I’m not even sure this is in the South — something about this says New England or upstate New York to me, but I could be wrong about that.

I’m not interested in running down folks’ guesses — done that already — so if you think you’ve got the answer, post a link to the evidence in the comments. For sure, somebody recognizes this town.



9 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Donald R. Shaffer said, on January 6, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I am pretty sure this Vicksburg. See:

  2. Corey Meyer said, on January 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Not Vicksburg, the courthouse has wings to it

  3. Virginia said, on January 6, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    The main building looks very much in detail like the Northampton County (Pa.) courthouse in Easton.

    It does not look like St. Paul’s in Richmond

    • Andy Hall said, on January 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      I believe you’re right — and the distinctive, twin structure to the left is the Northampton County Prison next door:


      Must have been taken from near where the Lehigh Valley Thruway crosses over the creek, and Sullivan Road goes up to that elevated spot around Lafayette College, the view looking roughly SW. The stream in the foreground would be Bushkill Creek.

      According to this (, the courthouse was finished in 1861, and the jail in 1871, making that latter date the earliest possible for this image.

      • Virginia said, on January 7, 2014 at 6:33 am

        I’ve never been there. But I’m a librarian, so sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet on a search. On reading through the history of the building someone thought it was (St. Paul’s in Richmond) I found that St. Paul’s had been modeled on a church in Pennsylvania. The hilly terrain would be right for certain parts of Pennsylvania, but it didn’t have to be a church, did it? Courthouses could also be impressive. Googled some of the architectural points with Pennsylvania and found this database which I examined and found it:

        Thanks for detailed confirmation!

        • Andy Hall said, on January 7, 2014 at 10:26 am

          Sometimes a good hunch is all it takes to unlock the info.

          Also, the folks over at Civil War Talk, where this picture had us stumped, also send their thanks!

          • Virginia said, on January 8, 2014 at 4:59 am

            Happy to do it. These things can be fun.

  4. Reed (the original, accept no substitutes) said, on January 7, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Ooooohhh… do I sense a new regular feature for Dead Confederates? You could call it “View From Your Old Window.” (h/t Andrew Sullivan)

    Happy New Year, Andy

    • Andy Hall said, on January 7, 2014 at 9:50 am

      That’s a good idea.

      Happy New Year to you, as well.

Leave a Reply to Virginia Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: