Courthouse

Few visitors come to Crosby without standing in awe of the beautiful building that is the Divide County Courthouse. It has a prominent position on a spacious lot at the north end of Main Street and is the first sight you seen when turn onto Main Street. The courthouse celebrated its 100th anniversary in August 2017 with an open house and a dedication of the new addition that was built in 2016-17.
Divide County Courthouse historical picture
The courthouse was originally built in 1917-18. The county commissioners at that time we E. M. Truax, O. K. Otteson, and A. O. Stene and the county auditor was W. E. Vadnois. Buechner and Orth were the architects who designed the building as they did for several North Dakota counties. Ellison-Williamson Construction of Minneapolis received the general contract with a bid of $104,951, the equivalent of $2,007,073 in 2017 dollars. Ceremonies for laying the cornerstone were held July 1, 1917. They were conducted by the Masonic Grand Lodge AM and FM under the direction of the Most Worshipful Master of North Dakota, William J. Reynolds of Westhope.

On February 20, 1918, a large housewarming part was held when the doors opened to the public for the first time. Palen's Orchestrat from Noonan played for a dance in the beautiful new courtroom while others played cards and strolled through the corridors. Tickets were $2.00 per couple with the Divide County Red Cross chapter furnishing lunch and receiving proceeds from the party.

The courthouse is a three story brick building with two large Corinthian columns standing on either side of the double front doors. A large clock in the dome tells the time for all that pass by.

Inside the courthouse are marble stairway and wall panels, terrazzo floors, and golden oak woodwork and furnishings. The handrails and guard rails are all brass. Most of the furnishing are those placed there when it was built.

The first or main floor is home to the County Auditor, Treasurer, Recorder, and Clerk of Court offices.  From the rotunda area on the main floor, you can look up into the dome where four scenes from Divide County are painted. One is a painting of Writing Rock with Native Americans added. A second painting shows a pioneer sod house and family. The third painting depicts early mining of Lignite coal near Noonan. The fourth painting is the farm of Hans T. Sorenson, a prosperous farmer in early times whose house still stands north of Crosby. These paintings and a painting of a covered wagon scene in the Farmers Room were painted by a roving painter, E. Sodenburg, from an art studio in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. 

The second or top floor is home to a large, beautiful courtroom that retains all the original woodwork, decorative molding, and seating. On the west side are offices for the States Attorney, Emergency Services and Zoning, and the Economic Development Director. From the top floor, a spiral staircase leads to the roof where there is a good view of the City of Crosby and the surrounding countryside. 

On the lower level is the Farmers Room;  a display of military uniforms, equipment, and memorabilia; the Veterans Service Office, and the Tax Equalization office.

What is now the Farmer's Room has had many uses. In 1924, the Catholic ladies served their annual church supper and had their sale in this room. During the 1926-1927 school year, the Holmes School District used it as an extra classroom. From 1929-1937 the room served as the public library. The room was renovated in 1957 and was designated the Farmer's Room.

There is a large marble monument on the courthouse lawn that was placed there in 1945. The monument is in memory of those who served in the military and gave their lives for freedom in the country's wars.

In 2017, a major addition to the courthouse was added that greatly expanded the square footage. Design work for the addition was managed by Klein, McCarthy & Co. Architects; the construction manager was Construction Engineers, Inc. The new addition was dedicated with an open house on August 5, 2017 as part of a community celebration recognizing several 100 year old buildings.

The new addition accommodates the Social Services, Public Health, and spacious jury room and judges chamber on the top floor. The main floor houses the NDSU Extension office, two large conference rooms, modern board room for the county commissioners, and a staff break room that allows meals to be served in the conference rooms, The Divide County Sheriff Office is now housed on the lower level with expanded offices, interview rooms, and a modern sally port.
Divide County Courthouse with new addition in 2017


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