Area county courthouses

Submitted Photo This photo from the Crosby Journal shows a new addition to the Divide County Courthouse in Crosby at left of the current Courthouse in early April as construction moves toward completion.

Divide Courthouse addition to double office space

CROSBY – The historic Divide County Courthouse has been a focal point at the end of Crosby’s Main Street for 100 years.

A new courthouse addition expected to be finished next month won’t detract from the view. County Commission Chairman Doug Graupe said the addition, which will double the amount of county office space, is being placed on the back side of the existing building.

“We wanted to make sure it could not be seen from the street so when you see the courthouse, you will see the same thing you have always seen,” he said.

The impressive architecture of the existing three-story courthouse will continue to be the face of the building, but a second entrance will be established where the new and the old come together. Near that entrance will be an elevator that will replace a troublesome chairlift, which often didn’t work but was the best the county could do.

File Photo The McLean County Courthouse was completed in 2012, replacing a 1907 structure.

“There was really no place to put an elevator in the whole building the way it was laid out,” Graupe said.

Where the old and new join also will be the location of new restroom facilities on each of the three floors.

Graupe explained the current courthouse has restrooms on the first and third floors, and the sewer and water system is so worn that when a toilet is flushed in the third-floor jury room, it leaks into the clerk of court vault.

Graupe said the commission always wondered why the county’s water bill was so high. When excavating for the new addition, the contractor discovered water running out from under the courthouse.

“We had a broken water line under there and didn’t know it – for years probably,” Graupe said, noting the entire water and sewer system needs updating. “The timing couldn’t be better for this new facility.”

Once the new addition is finished, the county plans to begin remodeling and repairing the existing courthouse, to include turning most of the existing restrooms into storage rooms. A large men’s restroom on the lower level will be converted into a conference room that also can be used to host driver’s license bureau office days in Crosby.

The addition is being built with three levels that will match up with the three levels of the existing courthouse and meld the two buildings into one.

The sheriff’s office, which has been located in a former residence that’s experiencing mold problems, will move into the lower level of the addition and will have access to a sallyport for transporting arrested individuals to jails. Divide County does not operate a jail but contracts with other facilities.

The second floor will include a commission room and meeting rooms fully equipped with the latest technology. The Extension Service and Disaster Emergency Services are expected to be primary users of the meeting rooms. The Register of Deeds office also will be moving from the existing courthouse to the second floor of the addition.

The third floor will house Social Services and bring Missouri Health Unit, which has an offices off-site, into the building. Social Services’ existing space in the courthouse will go to the Veterans’ Service Office, now located off-site. A jury room and judge’s office will be located on the third floor of the new addition, next to the existing courtroom in the older courthouse.

The $10.5 million project is under the oversight of Construction Engineers of Grand Forks and is being funded with money coming to Divide County from the oil production tax. Divide County, the state’s fifth largest oil-producing county, saved about $2.5 million from its oil production tax collections before beginning the project. Graupe said the county borrowed $8 million from the Bank of North Dakota for the remainder of the necessary funds and will pay back the loan with incoming oil production taxes.

Graupe said the new facilities will mean cost savings in the future as modernization and functionality come into play.

“It will make it more efficient,” he said.

McLean County offers one of state’s more modern courthouses

WASHBURN – McLean County moved into a new Courthouse in the fall of 2012.

Voters had approved borrowing from the Coal Severance Trust Fund to pay for the construction, costing just under $4 million. The county is repaying the loan with income from its share of the state’s coal severance tax.

The new courthouse neighbors a law enforcement center built four years earlier. The new building features ground-to-roof glass windows on a portion of the front. From the top floor on clear days, visitors can see the Missouri River.

By better utilizing space, the new courthouse replaced 42,000 square feet of cramped space with 25,000 square feet of spaciousness. The new building accommodates communications systems and electrical needs in ways that the old courthouse couldn’t. The building’s smaller size and the ground-heat pump system economizes on energy use.

Since 2010, the county had been using only the courthouse annex, built in the 1960s. The health unit, Extension Service and social services were scattered to other locations around Washburn after the closure of the original portion of the courthouse, built in 1907 and expanded in 1917. The older portion was closed due to structural issues and to a fungal illness associated with droppings from a bat colony that infested the building. The older portion eventually was demolished.

Burke County looks to update Courthouse

BOWBELLS – Burke County is looking at construction of an elevator/staircase annex for its existing 89-year-old courthouse.

Older courthouses weren’t designed for elevators so an addition estimated at $2 million is being considered to provide space in the Burke County building for that purpose. The annex also would include office space to create more room for existing county departments on each of the three floors.

Plans are to remodel restrooms in the existing courthouse for handicapped accessibility as part of the project.

The county commission will decide later this year on plans to move forward.

MOre info

Burke: Built in 1928, the design was inspired by the American Federalist style. An addition is currently being planned. This courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 as part of a thematic nomination.

Divide: Built in 1917, the building’s large murals in the dome feature scenes from early local history. This courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 as part of a thematic nomination.

McHenry: Built in 1907, this courthouse is simpler, more economical version of the Traill County Courthouse. This courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 as part of a thematic nomination.

Mountrail: Built in 1914, the Mountrail County Courthouse is primarily covered in Hebron brick and Kettle River stone but its dome has a lower arc than the others designed by the same architect. This courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 as part of a thematic nomination.

Pierce: The Pierce County Courthouse, built in 1908, consists of chocolate brown stone at the foundation with lighter brick walls. This courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 as part of a thematic nomination.

Renville: This 1936 courthouse was funded in part by the Works Progress Administration. It is the only courthouse in North Dakota that could be considered to have Art Moderne styling. This courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 as part of a thematic nomination.

Rolette: The Rolette County Courthouse is also a World War II Memorial building that was built in front of the old courthouse in 1959. The older courthouse served as Social Services offices until it was razed in 1971.

Sheridan: The Sheridan County Courthouse was constructed in 1939. It is the only Works Progress Administration project in the state to be built of monolithic concrete. Unfortunately, round aggregate used in the concrete popped out, creating a pock-marked facade. This courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 as part of a thematic nomination.