Monday, August 17, 2009

Northern Utah Courthouses

Traveling north out of Salt Lake City, the first courthouse is Davis County in Farmington.

An old but very well preserved courthouse, it still operates for the state court system.

The History of the Davis County Courthouse

First Davis County Courthouse
(Knowlton, Brief Histroy of Farmington)
On March 3, 1852, the Territorial Legislature created Davis County and named Farmington the county seat. The first County Court (now the Board of Commissioners) met on March 22, 1852. The Court instructed the County Clerk in June, 1853, "to make out three draughts (blueprints) of a County Court House to be presented at the next general election." Utah's first courthouse, the two-story adobe building (photo) was built on a rocky knoll on the south side of State Street in Farmington. It contained three jury rooms, three offices, a hall and a courtroom. In 1861, an east room was secured for a jail. A new privy was built in 1862. In 1867, handcuffs and a ball and chain were purchased, and an iron jail cage was installed in the northeast corner room. After a new courthouse was constructed, Mrs. Aurelia S. Rogers was granted use of the upper room for holding a children's Primary Fair in September, 1890. The old facility was then demolished and Farmington's Main Street extended south where the building had stood.

Second Davis County Courthouse
(Utah State Historical Society)
The Davis County Court (Commission) approved the construction of a new courthouse in a special session on May 20, 1889. Plans by Kaysville architect, William Allen, were approved in July, and the building contract was awarded to E. B. Tyson for $11,100 in the August court session. A protest petition from John G. M. Barnes and 150 others was tabled "as being too late to do anything about it." "After making acid tests on brick, it was ordered that the contractor for the new Court House use Mr. Samuel Ward's brick in the erection of the same." Mr. Ward's brickyard was located on the Mountain Road east of Kaysville. C. W. Richardson, bondsman, took over construction of the new courthouse in June, 1890 when the contractor failed to complete his contract. The new building was completed on August 18, 1890.

Third Davis County Courthouse
(Utah State Historical Society)
Davis County Commissioners announced plans in 1929 to enlarge the county courthouse. An initial Renaissance design with a turret corner entrance was replaced by a more traditional plan featuring a classical Grecian portico supported by six Ionian columns. The renovation utilized all the rooms of the original 1890 facility, removing its tall tower and adding east and west wings. A lawsuit filed by some disgruntled citizens failed to stop construction, and the $60,425 project was completed in 1932. A 1957-58 addition doubled the courthouse and another large addition to the southern side was completed in 1979. A 1997 renovation removed the ceiling installed in the front entry hall during the 1932 construction, revealing the original 1890 ornate ceiling, now lighted with antique electrical fixtures.

As with many courthouses throughout the country, it has a monument to veterans. In Davis County, it is a beautiful stained glass window with the names of the Veterans.

Next up the road is the Weber County Courthouse in Ogden. This is it. Seriously! OK, this is not the only horse in town, but what is the deal?

A bit further north in Brigham City is the Box Elder County Courthouse. This is a very historic building, and still houses the county offices.

Sitting at the head of Forester Street, the courthouse looks out to the west and can be seen for miles approaching from the west.

The beautifully preserved clock tower dome is one of the most striking features of this building.

Box Elder County Courthouse Main & Forest streets

The County Courthouse was begun in 1855 or 1856, the first public building in Brigham City. As soon as the basement walls were built and windows and doors installed, a temporary roof was added so it could be used for meetings and theatrical productions.

By 1857, two stories of adobe brick were built, but before the walls were finished, a strong wind blew some of them down. These walls were then rebuilt, and the building was completed before the end of 1857. Lorenzo Snow asked builder James Pett to install a roof that would stay. He accomplished this without nails, using wooden pegs and horse hide.

As the only public building, it was used for drama, religious services, recreation, and school as well as for city and county meetings and business.

Simeon D. Carter Jr. attended school there and told his family about it. His daughter wrote: "Father often told us of the furnishing of the school room in the court house where he went to school and Sunday School. It consisted of long slab seats without backs, and the legs made of rough boards stuck through the holes bored in the slab. One long slab was hinged to the wall for the desk, where the boys and girls went to practice penmanship. They laboriously followed a copy, set by the teacher, at the top of long sheets of 'foolscap' paper. Chidlren from the ABC class to the grown girls and boys were all in the same classroom."

In the early 1870s a large bell in the Courthouse tower signaled work time, lunch time, and quitting time for the Brigham Cooperative enterprises. It was also a fire bell.

In 1883 Peter F. Madsen, Probate Judge of Box Elder County, had the Courthouse renovated and had trees and shrubs planted.

A major remodeling in 1910 completely changed the courthouse's appearance. A large section extended the front of the building, and stone columns and a new tower were added. The original building became the rear wing.

District Court and judicial chambers were housed in the courthouse until the summer of 1994 when they moved to a new building. All county government departments remain in the courthouse at present.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

The new First District Court building is located across Main Street slightly north of the old one.

Moving further north up into Cache Valley, the courthouse in Logan is also very striking.

The courthouse was constructed in 1882-83, replacing a frame county building on the same site. Plans were drawn by architect Truman O. Angell, Jr.,(the original architect of the Salt Lake Tabernacle who's plans didn't work and ended up being replaced by my Great Great Grandfather Henry Grow), and the contract was let to the United Order Manufacturing and Building Company of the LDS Church's Logan Second Ward. Local materials were used for all but the finishing touches. An addition was built on the rear c. 1905, and two wings were added to the front in 1917, expanding the building to its present size.

A new courthouse has been built behind the old one on a side street to the west.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Haven County, New Haven Connecticut

The New Haven County Courthouse, at the corner of Elm and Church Streets, was one of a handful of buildings commissioned by New Haven County to bolster its City Beautiful movement. Modeled after St. George's Hall in Liverpool, England, the courthouse was designed by New Haven architects William Allen and Richard Williams. The building's design infused Beaux-Arts principles in a Neo-classical style. Construction began in 1909 and five years later, at a cost of $1.3 million, the structure was completed. It officially opened its doors on March 24, 1914. Statuary in front of the Courthouse by noted sculptor J. Massey Rhind and murals and lunettes inside by famed early 20th Century painter T. Thomas Gilbert help give the imposing building its aesthetic appeal.

The statue is of the Roman orator Cicero. On this cold day in January, he had a bunch of snow in his lap!

New Haven in 1970 witnessed the largest trial in Connecticut history. Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale and ten other Party members were tried for murdering an alleged informant. May Day, 1970 saw the beginning of the pretrial proceedings for the first of the two New Haven Black Panther trials; it was met with a demonstration by twelve thousand Black Panther supporters, including a large number of college students, who had come to New Haven individually and in organized groups and were housed and fed by community organizations and by Yale students in their dorms.

The demonstrations continued through the Spring. By day protesters assembled on the New Haven Green across the street from the Courthouse to hear speakers including Jean Genet, Benjamin Spock, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and John Froines; afterwards, many taunted the New Haven police, and in return were tear gassed and retreated to their temporary quarters. The police behind them half-heartedly assaulted the dormitories, as was customary for such demonstrations at the time, but on the whole it was peaceful, with very little injury or property damage and only two minor bombings. The National Guard were kept ready on the highways into the city, but police chief Jim Ahern determined that the city police were controlling the situation adequately, and that the presence of the Guard would only inflame the situation; the events at Kent State University a few days later were to prove him prescient.

This coincided with the beginning of the national student strike of May 1970. Local Yale University (and many other colleges) went "on strike" from just before May Day until the end of the term; as at many colleges it was not actually "shut down", but classes were made "voluntarily optional" for the time and students were graded pass/fail for work done up to then.


The Federal courthouse on the opposite end of the Green replaced the Federal District Court which was the scene of one of the more famous slave related cases in American history.

In 1807, the U.S. Congress joined with Great Britain in abolishing the African slave trade, although the trading of slaves within the United States was not prohibited. Despite the international ban on the importation of African slaves, Cuba continued to transport captive Africans to its sugar plantations until the 1860s, and Brazil to its coffee plantations until the 1850s.

On June 28, 1839, 53 slaves recently captured in Africa left Havana, Cuba, aboard the Amistad schooner for a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba. Three days later, Sengbe Pieh, a Membe African known as Cinque, freed himself and the other slaves and planned a mutiny. Early in the morning of July 2, in the midst of a storm, the Africans rose up against their captors and, using sugar-cane knives found in the hold, killed the captain of the vessel and a crewmember. Two other crewmembers were either thrown overboard or escaped, and Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montes, the two Cubans who had purchased the slaves, were captured. Cinque ordered the Cubans to sail the Amistad east back to Africa. During the day, Ruiz and Montes complied, but at night they would turn the vessel in a northerly direction, toward U.S. waters. After almost nearly two difficult months at sea, during which time more than a dozen Africans perished, what became known as the "black schooner" was first spotted by American vessels.

On August 26, the USS Washington, a U.S. Navy brig, seized the Amistad off the coast of Long Island and escorted it to New London, Connecticut. Ruiz and Montes were freed, and the Africans were imprisoned pending an investigation of the Amistad revolt. The two Cubans demanded the return of their supposedly Cuban-born slaves, while the Spanish government called for the Africans' extradition to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder. In opposition to both groups, American abolitionists advocated the return of the illegally bought slaves to Africa.

The story of the Amistad mutiny garnered widespread attention, and U.S. abolitionists succeeded in winning a trial in a U.S. court. Before a federal district court in New Haven, Cinque, who was taught English by his new American friends, testified on his own behalf. On January 13, 1840, Judge Andrew Judson ruled that the Africans were illegally enslaved, that they would not be returned to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder, and that they should be granted free passage back to Africa. The Spanish authorities and U.S. President Martin Van Buren appealed the decision, but another federal district court upheld Judson's findings. President Van Buren, in opposition to the abolitionist faction in Congress, appealed the decision again.

On February 22, 1841, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the Amistad case. U.S. Representative John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, who had served as the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829, joined the Africans' defense team. In Congress, Adams had been an eloquent opponent of slavery, and before the nation's highest court he presented a coherent argument for the release of Cinque and the 34 other survivors of the Amistad.

On March 9, 1841, the Supreme Court ruled, with only one dissent, that the Africans had been illegally enslaved and had thus exercised a natural right to fight for their freedom. In November, with the financial assistance of their abolitionist allies, the Amistad Africans departed America aboard the Gentleman on a voyage back to West Africa. Some of the Africans helped establish a Christian mission in Sierra Leone, but most, like Cinque, returned to their homelands in the African interior. One of the survivors, who was a child when taken aboard the Amistad as a slave, eventually returned to the United States. Originally named Margru, she studied at Ohio's integrated and coeducational Oberlin College in the late 1840s before returning to Sierra Leone as evangelical missionary Sara Margru Kinson.

"Amistad" is a magnificent movie based on the facts of the case. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as the young lawyer Baldwin, Morgan Freeman as Theodore Joadson, Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams and Djimon Hounsou as the slave's leader Cinque.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Earlier Posts

Norfolk County, Dedham, Mass.

December 1, 2008 ·

Dedham County Mass. was the site of one of the most famous trials held during the “Red Scare” of the early 1920’s. Two Italian anarchist’s, Sacco and Vanzetti, were convicted of murder in what has become very controversial evidence, and eventually executed in the electric chair. The link below has extensive information on the trial and it’s surrounding history.

Dedham is a quiet peaceful place today, and it seems hard to believe that it was the site of so much controversy just a few years ago.

Aurora, Hamilton County Nebraska

November 5, 2008 ·

One of my favorite courthouses so far is the courthouse in Aurora Nebraska.


It has a stunning presence in the center of town, the architecture is classic.


On June 4, 1923 the US Supreme court ruled in favor of Robert T. Meyer, who had been convicted here in Aurora of teaching German in a private school, and had invoked the 14th amendment.

Louis D. Brandeis, Pierce Butler, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Joseph McKenna, James Clark McReynolds (writing for the Court), Edward Terry Sanford, George Sutherland, William Howard Taft, Willis Van Devanter were the justices at the time.


For the first time, the Supreme Court hinted that the right to privacy was implied in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although this case dealt with Meyer’s right to teach German, and parents’ rights to have their children learn the language, Meyer was later used as a precedent to uphold contraceptive and abortion rights.
During and after World War I, a wave of “100 percent Americanism” swept the United States. Immigrants, especially Germans, were looked at with suspicion,and businesses and civic groups promoted the teaching of English and American values. Sauerkraut was renamed “liberty cabbage,” and in Nebraska, angry citizens burned books written in German. In the context of that patriotic fervor, the state of Nebraska passed the Foreign Language Statute. The 1919 law prohibited an instructor from using a modern foreign language or teaching a foreign language to students in grades one through eight. Any teacher violating the law was subject to a fine or jail term of not more than 30 days.
Robert Meyer was a teacher in Hamilton County, at the Lutheran Zion Parochial School. In his class, Meyer used a collection of Bible stories written in German to teach reading to ten-year olds. The state found out and charged him on 25 May 1920, for violating the language law. Meyer was convictedin the district court of Hamilton. He then appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court, claiming his right to teach had been denied, a right guaranteed under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Nebraska court ruled that Meyer violated the statute. They ruled that the law was a valid exercise of the state’s police power, and it did not infringe on Meyer’s Fourteenth Amendment rights. In its decision, the court reflected the anti-immigrant feelings of the time:

The salutary purpose of the statute is clear. The legislature has seen the baneful effects of permitting foreigners who had taken residence in this country, to rear and educate their children in the language of their native land. The result of that condition was found to be inimical to our own safety. To allow the children of foreigners who had emigrated here, to be taught from early childhood in the language of the country of their parents, was to rear them with that language as their mother tongue . . . The obvious purpose of this statute was that the English language should be and become the mother tongue of all children reared in this state.

From Language to Personal Liberty
The Supreme Court heard Meyer’s case on 23 February, 1923. In a 7-2 decision,the Court overturned the Nebraska court’s affirmation of the verdict. For the Court, Justice McReynolds noted that Meyer taught German as part of his occupation. Under the Fourteenth Amendment, Meyer had a right to work as a teacher, and the parents of his students had the right to have their children taught using German. The justice also pointed out that the state’s exercise of its police power was subject to judicial review.
In this case, the Court believed the state of Nebraska had infringed on personal liberty, even if the intent of the language law had a desirable end: ensuring all children learned English. The Constitution, McReynolds added, protected everyone, even people who speak a foreign language, and the laudable goal of promoting English “cannot be promoted by prohibited means.”
The decision had the immediate effect of restricting a state’s ability to control completely the curriculum taught in a private school. But Meyer’s broader significance came from the reasoning McReynolds used to support the Court’s verdict. McReynolds wrote that the Court had not specifically spelled out the liberty guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment, and he started to do so:

Without doubt, it [liberty] denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint, but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, to establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and, generally, to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men . . . The established doctrine is that this liberty may not be interfered with, under the guise of protecting the public, by legislative action which is arbitrary or without reasonable relationship to some purpose within the competency of the state to effect.

Greater Impact for the Future
In the words of the Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court, the Meyer decision “languished in doctrinal obscurity for forty years.” But starting in the 1960s, the decision’s notion of protected personal liberty helped shape the idea of a right to privacy. The Court held that the right to privacy was implied in the Fourteenth Amendment and in McReynolds’ assertion that marriage, child-rearing, and other personal pursuits were fundamental, guaranteed liberties under that amendment. In Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Court said privacy rights allowed a married couple to use contraception without government interference. In another landmark case, Roe v. Wade (1973), Justice Harry Blackmun again cited the Meyer decision and the protection it extended to personal, private liberty. A woman’s right to privacy, Roe held, allows her to have an abortion if she chooses.

Imagine that Roe v. Wade had it’s roots here!


I can see Mr Meyer sitting in this chair in the basement. If he had only known!

Heppner, Morrow County, Oregon

November 5, 2008 ·


The first courthouse was a frame structure completed shortly after Heppner was confirmed as the county seat. In 1902, the wooden courthouse was torn down and replaced the following year by the present courthouse, which is constructed of native bluestone with sandstone trim. With the flood of 1903 (see below) the Courthouse became one of only two major buildings left in the town of Heppner. It sits on a bluff at the east end of town overlooking with Willow Creek valley and provides a prominent reminder of the place of our houses of justice.


In June of 1903, just after the completion of the courthouse, Heppner was devastated by the most deadly natural disaster in Oregon’s recorded history. A very strong thunderstorm precipitated a severe flash flood along Willow Creek, normally a quiet stream running through the town. The storm caused a 40 foot wall of water to sweep away much of the town in just a few minutes. The disaster left 247 people dead and most of the town’s structures destroyed. Leslie Matlock, a Heppner resident who was able to escape the flood, heroically jumped on a horse and raced ahead of the rampaging waters to the neighboring town of Lexington, nine miles to the northwest. His warnings to the town’s 500 residents to “head for the hills” saved them. By the time the flood passed, only two houses in Lexington were still standing.


Genesee County, Batavia, New York

October 26, 2008 ·

History of the
Genesee County Courthouse

The Genesee County Courthouse is located at the junction of Main and Ellicott Street, in Batavia, NY. This Greek revival courthouse is an architectural focal point for downtown Batavia. The courthouse has played an integral part in the area’s history since its construction in 1841.

Each fa├žade of this square building is five bays wide and was built of Onondaga limestone. The front of the building (facing east) is two and a half stories high and the back (west) is three full stories. Originally, six heavy stone pilasters framed an open porch which ran the full length of the front. In 1931, this area was renovated for additional office space and the center bay front entrance way was created.

The hip roof is constructed of slate and copper and supports a two-tiered wooden cupola. This cupola houses a brass bell. A central hall flanked by offices encompasses the main floor. The double staircase merges into a single flight which leads to the courtroom and two judges chambers on the second floor. The third floor was originally the County Clerk’s office and is today used to host the County Legislature Meetings and Bankruptcy Court proceedings.

This building is a product of the talents of local craftsmen and is constructed of local materials. The courthouse was completed in 1843 and the first court was held in February of that same year. On June 18, 1973 the courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Paula and I arrived in Batavia on a cold rainy September morning early and the light was very poor. Nonetheless, the location of the courthouse is very interesting at the intersection of this Y where the City buildings and the jail are all located.

Another fun stop on our cross country adventure in the little blue convertible. Here it is in front of the Jail. The building also has a number of Justice Center functions.

Auburn, Cayuga County New York

October 14, 2008 ·

Cayuga County New York has one of the very important courthouses in the U.S. It has the distinction of having been the site of one of the most important cases in the history of Abolitionism and The Underground Railroad. Google Cayuga County history for some amazing stories. This picture was taken in the summer of 2008.

Across the street is an amazing old post office and federal courthouse. It is still used as a federal courthouse.

Idaho Falls, Bonneville County Idaho

October 7, 2008 ·

In a state with relatively few counties, and mostly new courthouses, the Idaho Falls courthouse is one of the best examples of a pre-depression very functional courthouse.

By 1919, Bonneville County was known as one of the big, wealthy and progressive counties of the state with the smallest indebtedness of any county. On June 3, 1919, citizens voted to bond the county for $250,000 to build a courthouse which would house a jail in the basement.

After traveling far and wide to look at other county courthouse buildings, the commissioners hired architects Fisher and Aitkins to draw up plans. These were approved August 12, 1919. Bids were called for October 21, 1919, contracts awarded December 1, 1919, to W. H. and E. M. Holden. Other contracts were awarded June 7, 1920, to North Pacific Construction Company, S. K. and George Mittry, owners, to complete the building, and to Tarbet Heating and Plumbing to install the plumbing and heating works.

On March 16, 1921, with bands playing, the handsome new courthouse, gaily draped in bunting, was formally opened. It was a beautiful day, befitting the opening of the Idaho Falls First Annual Spring Festival. An orchestra played in the basement during the afternoon and most of the 8,000 population of Idaho Falls and many others from surrounding communities crowded into the building.

People went on guided tours, commenting on the lofty ceiling, many windows, polished doors and artistic rostrum. The domed ceiling with the stained glass was called awesome. People praised the mosaic floors, marble pillars and decorations.

Captain Murphy from Dubois was the main speaker for the evening. After the speeches there was dancing in the rotunda with free punch for all. A flashlight picture was taken inside the building for publicity in the Kiwanis journal. The sheriff said the only place without a reception line was in the jail.

The only ones not rejoicing at the completion of the building were the Mittry brothers. The Commissioners had paid out monies available as work progressed until the $250,000 fund was used up. There was no money left to pay the remainder of the amount incurred by the Mittry brothers, $18,880. They filed suit on March 12, 1921, and Judge Robert Terrell ruled in their favor. The Commissioners appealed the case.

On November 27, 1923, the State Supreme Court ruled that the county could not legally pay out more than its bonded indebtedness. According to Alvin Denman, a practicing attorney in Idaho Falls for 60 years, the loss pretty much put the Mittry brothers out of the building contract business.

Woodstock, Windsor County Vermont

October 3, 2008 ·

Windsor, the birthplace of Vermont has the original Windsor County Courthouse. It sits on State street, just off the town square. It has been converted to retail and residential space. At one time it was used as the legislative statehouse for the State of Vermont.

On the elliptical village green in Woodstock is the current and nearly 150 year old Windsor County Courthouse, which still has the superior court. It is across Court Street from the famous Woodstock Inn, built by the Rockefeller family and still a very popular destination.

Just down the road a bit is a modern county admin building with the Probate Court located therein.

Woodstock is a beautiful town, once called the most beautiful town in America. Well worth the visit!

Sherman County, Moro, Oregon

September 21, 2008 ·

A good example of a courthouse built by a proud county in the late 1800’s. Sits on a hill overlooking town.

Interestingly, the county had a population of about 1900 at the time the courthouse was constructed. Today the population remains at less than 2000.

Rumor has is that the jurors still sit on the orange stadium pads promoting the local high school football team!

Sullivan County, Newport New Hampshire

September 15, 2008 ·

Newport New Hampshire is the classic New England town rightfully proud of it’s courthouses. The Old Courthouse is now a fine eating establishment, but the courthouse built in 1885 still operates as a courthouse, as well as an Opera house, and offices for the county.

This original Sullivan County Courthouse building was built in 1826 in the Federal style. It has two and one-half stories and a gabled roof with chimneys at each end of the roof ridge. The center entry is flanked by half sidelights and the tower is topped with a copper sheathed dome. It sit’s behind the current courthouse.

On June 13, 1827 William Cheney introduced a measure to the New Hampshire Legislature to create a new county to serve the outlying towns of Cheshire County which at that time was centered in Keene and Charlestown. There was much discussion concerning what towns should be included: Fisherfield (Newbury) and New London were on the original list, but removed; Langdon did not want to join, but they were voted in; Lebanon, Enfield and Grafton were proposed for inclusion, but denied. The name originally proposed for the new county was Columbia, but it was changed to Sullivan in honor of the Revolutionary War hero General John Sullivan. There was also a competition between Newport and Claremont to be the shire town, and Newport was chosen because of its more central location and the political influence of Cheney. The townspeople of Newport were confident that they would be chosen as the county seat, because by February 11, 1826 they had built the courthouse pictured here on a lot purchased from Aaron Nettleton, and it was already certified ready for occupancy. Town offices were located on the first floor and the County Court was on the second. The first term of this Court of Common Pleas opened on the first Tuesday of November, 1827. The first case tried was between Josiah Stevens, Jr. and Oliver Gould, Jr.

The Courthouse remained in service from July 5th, 1827 until 1873 when the County and town offices moved to the newly built Town Hall/Sullivan County building on Main Street. During these years this building was used for social gatherings as well as court proceedings. When the County court and town offices were relocated this property was conveyed exclusively to the town, and the Town of Newport gave it to the Union School District for a term of ninety-nine years.

This Town Hall and Courthouse was built in 1873, designed in the Second Empire style by Concord, NH architect Edward Dow and built by the Wallace L. Dow Company of Newport. This larger facility was erected because the original courthouse had become dilapidated and outdated. Claremont made a strong case for the Courthouse to move to that town in a lengthy publication dated in 1872, which was met with a rebuttal by Newport’s leading citizens, and supported by the Court. As a result the Sullivan County Courthouse remained in Newport.

This building burned in Newport’s worst fire on June 27, 1885. Destroyed were most of the contents of the Town Hall, Courtroom and County offices, as well as the offices of the Argus-Champion, owned by Barton & Wheeler. The law library of A. S. Wait, Esq., termed one of the largest and finest in the state, was also lost to the flames. There was, however, time to rescue some items, including county and town records, as well as the piano. This disaster began the serious discussion of equipping the town with “adequate appliances for protection against fire.” Directly after the fire a meeting was held in Claremont to discuss the future interests of Sullivan County. Of great concern was the “injury” to public records, and once again it was recommended that a new courthouse be built in Claremont, apart from any surrounding buildings, made as fire proof as possible, and constructed on land owned by the County and exclusively for County use.

Newport responded with an offer to give the County a deed to the same site and to contribute recovered insurance payments to the rebuilding project. A new Town Hall and Courthouse was immediately rebuilt on the same site in a similar eclectic style by Hira R. Beckwith of Claremont, New Hampshire.

The broad wide street in Newport really allows this courthouse and the attached admin building to be prominent in presentation.