Mountrail County Courthouse

The Mountrail County Courthouse in Stanley, North Dakota. This picture hangs in my Mom's living room--of the dedication of the new courthouse on July 14, 1915.

Stanley was founded in 1902 by George Wilson. The town grew quickly from a bare prairie to a thriving town within years due to the homesteading era. It was a part of Ward County, which was huge. Its size prevented the average homesteader good access to government. The closest sheriff was in Minot, which in horse-and-buggy days made law enforcement pretty inaccessible for the average citizen.

On January 25, 1909, Governor John Burke declared the organization of the County of Mountrail, a section of Ward County. Stanley was selected as the county seat. The original courthouse eventually became the Flath Building, which I would have loved except I remember climbing the awesome old wooden stairs to dreaded dentist appointments. The site is now a new bank building--the Scandia Bank for decades, now the American Bank Center.

In 1914, the current courthouse was built. The construction bid went to Carl Bartleson for $49,660. (The total cost ended up being $70,408.90.) It must have been an awesome sight to that budding town--because it's still a lovely big building today. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a "majestic example of the French Renaissance structure." It is covered in Hebron brick (the Hebron Brick factory, started in 1904, is still a going concern in Hebron, ND, in the area of Bismarck) and Kettle River stone. The steps are Minnesota marble.

These pictures (the top one, 1915, the bottom 1945) don't do the building justice because its lovely dome on top sadly doesn't show! But now trees surround the building so thickly that you can't see the whole building like you can in these old pictures.

Mom (Dorothy Kannianen) worked at the courthouse for thirteen years as the head receptionist for the sheriff--first Ralph Hamre, then Kenny Halvorson. When they remodeled a few years ago, they found huge barrels of hard candy, I think down in a basement, that was for emergencies/starvation. Mom has a jar of it in her kitchen. I have no idea how old it is, but it looks okay to eat to me.

I enjoy seeing the courthouse every time I go back to visit Mom.

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