The original Cottonwood County Courthouse was built in 1872, a year before the county was organized. The all-purpose building housed the school downstairs and the county offices above. Students were dismissed when court was in session. In the evenings, the building could be rented by musicians or other performers for $7. Built at a cost of $2,916.62, it was used as a barn after the current courthouse replaced it in 1905.
In 1903, the Cottonwood board of commissioners toured four midwestern states before deciding to hire Omeyer and Thori of St. Paul as the architect.
The building, which cost nearly $60,000 to build, rises from a basement level of deep red sandstone through two stories of buff-colored brick. Identical grand pedimented porticos on the north and south are supported by two pairs of Corinthian columns with spread eagles in their capitals. The building is crowned with an octagonal drum, which supports a segmented dome two stories above the level of the roof. A figure of Justice stands on top. Shallow segmented domes painted silver top the four large corner pavilions.
The two-story central rotunda is the dominant feature inside. The rotunda murals and the gold-leaf-embellished mural of Justice above the bench in the courtroom -- said to be patterned after a painting in the Palace of Justice in Paris -- was completed by L.A. Thiel & Co., fresco artists from Chicago.
In 1940, the north and south entrances were enclosed and sagging wooden floors were replaced in 1953. The court area, rest rooms, and lighting have been updated and a law library has been added. In 1975, the rotunda was refurbished and the Windom Lions' Club donated a set of chimes on the outside of the building. Four years later, the statue of Justice was lowered and restored.
The photograph above shows the courthouse photographed in 1955.
This 1925 photograph shows the courthouse as it looked initially.
A view of a courthouse office in 1910.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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