Pope County Courthouse History

When Pope County was organized in 1866, a log cabin built in the then-county seat, Stockholm, was used as a courthouse.  The cabin is currently on display as part of a historic museum in Glenwood.  In 1867, the county seat was moved to Glenwood where a small, two-story wooden building on Green Street served as the courthouse until 1879.

In that year, an $8,000, two-story brick building was built in a cruciform configuration with two shallow-pitched gables intersecting where a very small lantern or cupola stood.  A round window punctuated each of the four pediments and a chimney rose at each peak.  A darker string course emphasized the tops of the narrow individual hooded windows.  By 1928, the county board considered the building inadequate and "very unsightly inside, looking more like an abandoned structure than a public building."  The building was razed and the present courthouse built on the site.

A four-day event dedicated the Pope County Courthouse in June 1930.  It began with a Glenwood band concert in the city park.  The festivities concluded after three full days of speeches and music, Sunday morning services at the Lutheran church, and an afternoon historical pageant at the fair grounds.

The building, shown above, is a Classic Revival style with a central pavilion that boasts engaged piers, decorated panels, and a heavy entablature upon the central frieze of which are carved the words, "Built to Perpetuate Civic Order and Justice."  The 62 by 146 foot building cost $153,000 to build.  An additional $20,500 was spent on furnishing and fixtures.  Nairne Fisher of St. Cloud designed it and Mads Madsen was the general contractor. 

The light sand-colored brick came from Ohio and the limestone trim is from Bedford, IN.  Two carloads of marble were shipped from Vermont to make the hallway wainscoting.  Metal grillwork in the stairway and the protective ornament on the front doors were custom-designed for Pope County.  Walnut with black ebony inlay was used for courtroom furniture.  The commissioners' boardroom and various lobby benches were furnished and decorated with quarter-sawed oak, enhanced with ebony.

Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."

Return to Pope County District Court