Wilkin County Courthouse History

A 10 by 12 foot frame building was used as a courthouse after the county was organized in 1872.  However, it burned the night before the offices were to be moved to the first formal Wilkin County Courthouse in 1883.  The workmanship of that courthouse was criticized at the time and there were accusations of extortion.  Like its predecessor, the courthouse burned in 1924 after serving the county for more than 40 years.

Work on the current courthouse began in the fall of 1927, after the debris from the fire had been cleared from the site.  The two-story building of Bedford stone and creamy brick was completed in 1929.  Its high parapet and basement creates an impression of Beaux Arts style.  Its high brick pilasters reach up to the cornice and it has carved garlands and rosettes, and a four-foot stone eagle over the doorway also suggest Beaux Arts.  However, it is a flattened, squared-off Beaux Arts adjusted to the Moderne style of the 1920s.

Buechner and Orth of St. Paul designed the building and Redlinger and Hanson built it at a cost of $203,492.  St. Paul firms supplied the masonry, star-patterned terrazzo floors, steel and bronze doors, ornamental plaster work and brass trim. 

The flat roof gives no hint of the central interior dome with its geometrically divided stained glass skylight.  The surrounding murals above a second-floor columned loggia depict early Wilkin County.  The terrazzo floors and the pink Tennessee marble wainscoting on a base of Italian marble are original.  Ceilings have been lowered and lighting updated.  The windows were also altered in 1968, but their integrity remains.

An inscription carved across the central parapet reads: "To None Will We Delay, To None Will We Deny, Right or Justice."

The courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

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

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