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In 1881, the county voted to spend five thousand dollars for a 42 x 50 two-story courthouse. The two-story courthouse and a small cottonwood jail was built in Stockton at the corner of 2nd and Elm Streets. The courthouse was used until 1922 when the new courthouse was built at 1st and Walnut Streets.
The present Rooks County Courthouse was built in 1921. The builder was Cuthbert & Sons, and the architect was F. C. Squires from Topeka. The land was purchased as follows: The south 1/2 of blocks 1,3,5,7 from J. T. and Martha E. Smith; the north 1/2 of blocks 1,3,5,7 from the Newahcuba Lodge #189; and blocks 9,11,13,15,17 from Peter G. and Emma C. Griebel. The structure is a Bedford Stone Structure with county offices on the first three floors and a jail on the fourth floor.
The courthouse cost over three hundred thousand dollars. County warrants were sold to Brown Crummer Investment Company for financing for the erection and completion of the courthouse. There was marble imported by Lautz Marble Company, and the decorating was done by William Andrews Company of Chicago.
The cornerstone was laid in a grand ceremony on September 8, 1921. In the cornerstone was placed a copy of each of Stockton's newspapers, the Review and the Record, several old coins, a copy of the by-laws of Newahcuba Lodge #189, a list of the Grand Officers who had charge of the ceremonies, a list of members of local lodges, a statement of the cost description, the date of letting of the contract, and the pen used to sign the contract. The building was completed in 1923.
The staircases are made of solid marble and the corridors are lined from the floor up five feet with solid sheets of marble. The corridor floors are original ceramic tile. The doors and casings are all solid original oak. The third floor contains the courtroom, which has a two-story ceiling. The judge's bench, the jury box, and the press box are enclosed by solid marble. There are seven original vaults throughout the courthouse with beautiful ornate door casings.
In 1974, an elevator, fire escape, and central air conditioning were added. In 1994, a veteran's memorial was dedicated outside of the northeast corner of the courthouse. And finally, near the end of 2000, the building was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Information from Roger Hrabe, Rooks County Economic Development Director
Spring Hours:Sun: 1:00 pm - 2:00 am Mon-Thurs: 7:30 am - 2:00 amFriday: 7:30 am - 7:00 pmSat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
For current month(s) and detailed information, please select desired month under announcements (below).Phone: 785.628.4434Fax: 785.628.4096Contacts DirectoryMailing Address: Forsyth Library 600 Park Street Hays, KS 67601Physical Address: 502 South Campus Drive Hays, KS 67601-4099
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