In 1857, one year after Chaska was named the county seat, county commissioners authorized a bond issue of $13,000 and broke ground for the county's first courthouse. Construction crews managed to build the courthouse walls before they stopped construction because the bonding company defaulted. A roof was built to make part of the building usable in 1861.
When Waconia threatened to force another vote on the location of the county seat, Chaska residents contributed $5,500 to settle all claims and deed the courthouse property to Carver County. The Courthouse was finally completed in 1872. In the meantime, court was held in a room leased by the county elsewhere in Chaska.
The 1872 Italianate building was a two-story brick rectangle with narrow arched windows and a heavy cornice forming a curve above the central bay. An onion-shaped dome and finial sat on top of a square cupola in the center of the building.
By 1920, the building was described as needing replacing, but Carver County continued to use it until 1966, when a new courthouse started in 1963 was completed four blocks north.
The 1966 courthouse, currently in use, is an example of the 1960s Corporate International style. The flat surface of the two-story portion on the west is relieved by a low curve like a waning moon jutting from the roof. The north one-story section joins the other section with a one-story glass entrance concourse. The brownish-red brick of the exterior is framed with a band of light face stone, all on reinforced concrete. Narrow vertical windows reaching floor to ceiling are spaced at regular intervals.
The courthouse was designed by Stegner-Hendrickson/McNutt of Brainerd with Ericksen/Ellison Associates of St. Paul, consulting engineers. Adolfson & Peterson, Inc. built the building at a cost of $1.5 million, slightly one-third of which came from a trust fund established by C.H. Klein, a local businessman.
When the courthouse was completed in 1966, the old courthouse and its lot were sold to a Minneapolis realty firm for $100,000. The building was demolished and replaced by the First National Bank.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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