Historic Ward County Courthouse goes modern

Jill Schramm/MDN The former Ward County commissioners’ chambers now serves as a conference room in the State’s Attorney’s office.

Converting Ward County’s historic Courthouse into a modern justice center while preserving the beauty of the original structure has been the goal of a remodeling project that’s coming to a close.

With the completion of a new county office building at the end of 2015, construction began in 2016 to remodel the existing Courthouse for improved use by the legal and court systems. Adolfson & Peterson Construction has been in charge of the project.

A juvenile courtroom and detention center were constructed on the lower level. The State’s Attorney’s office is spread out on the second floor, while its former first-floor offices are being remodeled for visiting attorneys. The second-floor Clerk of District Court office expanded into the former Ward County Recorder’s office and the entire office space was remodeled.

“It was long past due,” State’s Attorney Rozanna Larson said of extra space for her office. Including her private office, nine individual offices are available for staff attorneys, of which seven are occupied. Formerly crowded into small offices shared with each other, attorneys now have their own spaces in what had been the auditor/treasurer’s area.

The former county commission chambers has been refurbished as a conference room, providing a place for meetings.

Jill Schramm/MDN Staff in the state’s attorney’s office have handy access to case files in the larger quarters in the Ward County Courthouse.

Larson said the new design adds to productivity and creates a better situation for victims and witnesses who need to meet privately with attorneys.

The main-floor Ex-Servicemen’s Room has been remodeled into a courtroom with jury room. It gives the courthouse three jury courtrooms and another, smaller courtroom.

The remodeled areas have new LED lighting. The main floor will have two unisex, handicapped-accessible restrooms. Other floors will continue to have men’s and women’s restrooms.

A metal stairway from the second floor to a main-floor storage room was removed, and the room was extended into the former Extension Service area to provide a large area for file storage for the Clerk of Court.

The required installation of a fire-suppression sprinkler system throughout the three-story courthouse added nearly $400,000 to the project cost, which now totals about $5 million. The fire-suppression system also required the replacement of interior doors.

Jill Schramm/MDN The district court office has added new space and a new entrance in a portion of the Ward County Courthouse that once housed the Register of Deeds office.

Some of those doors can be found hanging on walls. Larson said she is seeking historic pictures of Ward County scenes to display in the door panels and black-and-white photos of each of the cities to hang in a hallway.

Jill Schramm/MDN The newly remodeled space for staff in the state’s attorney’s office allows for more room for employees.