Category: Historic Courthouses

Historic Courthouses

Old Greeley County Courthouse

A post rock courthouse was built in Tribune in 1890, at a cost of $20,000. This three-story building was the hub of Greeley County, built on the public square. One of three oldest courthouses in Kansas, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1975, the Courthouse became the Horace Greeley Museum.

Everything was held in the spacious building, such as, graduation, school plays, dances, movies, meetings, photography studio, the Doctor’s dwelling, and of course, court was held in this building. Each office had a coal burning stove, drinking water bucket, and it was the duty of those employed in the offices to carry coal, start the fire in the stoves, get the pail of water, and other daily chores. During the depression a room was used for mattress making, and dispensing commodities to the qualifying families.

The judges bench, gavel, spittoon, witness chair, and the thirteen jurors chairs are displayed in the courtroom. It still contains the original jail cells in the basement.

The wainscoting, hinges, and curved stairway in the building are all original. The vault doors in the building are steel, and the doors have hand-painted scenes as adornment. There have been changes made through the years when the building was used as a courthouse, such as modernized water and bathrooms, but attention has been made to leave it as original as possible.

The entire three floors are dedicated to the collection and preservation of Greeley County history through displays, photos, period rooms, original newspapers from 1877, and city and genealogical records.

Trego County Courthouse

The cornerstone of the Trego County Courthouse was laid in 1888, and the building was completed in 1889. It was constructed from Trego County hard stone and finished with Manhattan stone because they could not find enough Trego County hard stone. The building was designed by George R. Ropes, an architect from Topeka, Kansas. It featured the American Queen Anne Style with an Elizabethan frontage. The highest cupola reached 100 feet in the air and the original tin roof was imported from Europe.

In 1951-1952 the original roof was removed to make it a “modern-looking” building. The roof was also in disrepair and this was the method chosen to repair it. Since the main portion of the building remains the same, the Trego County Courthouse is one of the oldest still in operation in Kansas today.

In June 1974 several scenes of “Paper Moon” were filmed in the Courthouse. The jail in the basement was also used until it was condemned in 1976. Presumably, the Jail was pre-made elsewhere and shipped in. It’s unusual features included flat bars instead of round ones and a different locking system.

On its front lawn of the Courthouse is a war memorial dedicated in memory of the valiant service our soldiers gave to our country.

Rush County Courthouse

The Rush County Courthouse was constructed in 1888 following a “tug-of-war” for the county seat. The building is now listed in the National Register of Historical Places. The first phases of a restoration project have been recently completed with the dedication of the newly renovated second floor courtroom. Windows on the first floor were restored with assistance of a Preservation Trust Grant through the Kansas State Historical Society. Restoration of offices on the second floor is now under way. rn

Osborne County Courthouse

A visit to the Osborne County Courthouse will show the use of the area’s popular post rock material in its Romanesque Revival styling. Built in 1907-1908 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the courthouse features notable stone carvings at the main entrance, including a very unusual Medusa. A facial likeness of John Wineland, a “sidewalk superintendent,” is carved on the south side of the clock tower.

The story goes that John Wineland, one of the first settlers in Osborne County, would daily walk from his home across the street to the new courthouse contruction site and inspect the work of the stone masons, suggesting to them how to “do the job properly.” Finally the masons’ foreman had enough of this and informed Mr. Wineland that if he didn’t cease bothering them, they would carve his face in the rock. He didn’t, and they did.

The second floor corridor also features artifacts from early-day Osborne County.

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Mitchell County Courthouse

Built in 1901 for a total of $38,310. of 8″ pitchfaced native limestone, of Richardsonian Romanesque design.

The Seth Thomas four-faced clock in the courthouse tower was installed in 1904 and paid for by donations. Originally run by hand, the clock was electrified in 1950. Of the 25 rooms on 3 levels, the original stone floor tiles, decorative metal ceilings and early embossed wall covering may be seen in the halls. Ornate fireplaces are still visible in several offices. The castle-like building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.