Anderson County Historical Society



"With the indebtedness which was caused by voting bonds, which comes due in about five years, we probably can't afford the new courthouse right now. We have buildings that are perhaps 'inadequate' but they are doing the service very nicely now,and in this time of financial depression we can pull through with considerable economy"... Greeley News Mar. 1, 1895

Because of the shortage of money in those times, by May 15, 1895 the new courthouse talk had completely sub-sided. Plans were to sell the old courthouse and purchase another business building on the north side of the square.This was not feasible as the roof needed raised, and major renovation would need to take place.

An election was set for July 16, 1895 to vote a new courthouse, but because of opposition in the county, this was called off. A jail was voted on in Nov. 1895 and it, too, was defeated.

By September 1898, it was agreed to build a new court-house. Other improvements included newly "macadamized"streets around the square. But action lagged until Jan. 18, 1901, when Senator Crum presented a bill to the Kansas Senate to provide for the erection of a courthouse in Anderson county. On Feb. 15, 1901, the legislature authorized the erection of the Anderson County courthouse.

George Washburn, noted architect who built the courthouses in Yates Center, Ottawa, Paola, and Olathe was contracted to design the building.

Discussion then was whether to locate it on the westside of the lawn and leave room for gatherings on the east, or place it in the middle. The cost of the new structure when complete was set at $75,000.

After trees were cleared from the area, W. Blackburn dug finding the soil 8 1/2 feet deep, and an underlay of very hard strata rock fully 3 feet thick, which in turn rested upon another strata of rock which was fully capable of sustaining the new building.

On July 5, 1901, commissioners met and passed on the bonds and construction began that day, with one year to complete the same given. John Dockendorff was named superintendent of construction, and Latimer & Benning were contractors.

A railroad spur from the K.N. &D. track was laid into the northeast portion of the lawn to deliver rock and supplies. By July 26, 1901, the first car of stone arrived. Peter Barndt supplied the red bricks.

The building is classic Romanesque architecture, a rectangular three-story structure with a full basement, 102 feet long by 66 feet wide, of red brick laid in running bond with white mortar.

The courtroom was described as the most beautiful in the State of Kansas. It's heavy, carved oak, 12-inch ceiling beams, curved wood railing and trim, irreplaceable stained glass windows and original carved oak furnishings were in remarkable taste and beauty of the era.

Cornerstone ceremonies for the new courthouse were held Thursday, September 26, 1901. Taking part in the ceremonies were Mayor Hennings with the Hon. Samuel Crum, a state senator and Hon. N.L. Bowman, a state representative.

In the cornerstone were placed copies of four local newspapers, a History of Anderson County, Garnett city directory, gold, silver and copper coins, a magazine with an article on the assassination of President McKinley and the inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt, a copy of city ordinances, etc.

Cornerstone committee members were James Bell, H.M. Ellis, C.H. Rice, Martin Setter, and J.C. Wise. Addresses were given by J.C. Johnson, Fred Trigg, W.S. Fallis, E.M. Elliott and A. J. Smith.

Approximately 6,000 persons attended on Friday, July 4, 1902, as the beautiful new courthouse was dedicated. Fireworks started the day and ended the day. Humburg Circus held a grand street parade. C.H. Clarke's dog & pony show from Ozark township was a highlight.

Glee clubs sang, and the main speaker of the day was Ex-Senator E.T. Metcalf of Colony, followed by Noah Bowman, then speakers representing townships: Hon. W.A. Johnson for Monore, C.A. Woodward for Westphalia, W.P. Alexander for Union, S.S. Irwin for Lone Elm, A.R. Wait for Ozark, C.C. Leech for Indian Creek and Frank Alexander, for Welda township.

A few Courthouse highlights.

The First marriage in the new courthouse was that of George W. Hobart, Kincaid, and Maud Pistols, Lone Elm, who were married July 4, 1902 by Judge Higgins. They received their license free for having the first marriage in the courthouse after the dedication.

July 12, 1917, A drinking fountain was erected by The Goldenrod Club in the courthouse park. A pagoda was built of rough face brick with white stone trimming.

January 30, 1919, A cannon, along with a number of cannon balls, captured in WWI was installed in the south-west corner of the courthouse park. Gov. Arthur Capper approved this gift to his hometown of Garnett and Anderson County.

June 2, 1921, The bandstand was moved from the eastside of the courthouse lawn to the west side, across the walk from the fountain.

May 17, 1928, A site for the new jail was established just east of the courthouse where the fountain was situated.

March 17, 1932, The old Garnett bandstand was razed and construction started immediately on a new brick and stone bandstand in its place. It was dedicated June 3, 1932 with John J. Ingalls speaking and reviewing the history (William Jennings Bryan had given a speech in the old bandstand).

April 13, 1944, The courthouse was redone from cellar to garret. The "tin-tinnabulating" chandeliers of the Gay Nineties were taken down from the courtroom and replaced with modern ceiling globe lights.

1940's, A lift was installed on the outside of the northside just west of the main entrance.

1947, A new tile roof was installed at a cost of $7,200.

August 1950, A replica of the Statue of Liberty on the northwest lawn was dedicated. It was donated in honor ofBoy Scout Troop 126 by Ben & Lena Kay, at a cost of $300.00.William Hamilton and son, James, did the stone work.

November 26, 1963, Fire broke out on the third floor of the courthouse, charring the county welfare office, the employees coffee room and adjacent lounges. Smoke damaged the county engineer's and selective service board offices.

1970's, Several trees were removed from the south sideof the courthouse lawn and a parking lot was established there. At this time, the WWI cannon was removed. Its where abouts are unknown.

February 7, 1977, Remodeling in the courtroom area included shortening the courtroom 12 feet and reducing seating from 80 to 50 seats. Air conditioning was also added and the cost was $90,000 to $120,000.

1985, The Statue of Liberty on the courthouse lawn was restored.
September 25, 1989– A 12-foot flagpole on top of the courthouse with angled lighting at its base was restored at a cost of $1,300. The flagpole had not been used for 40 years.

2000, Janice Hodgson painted the metal panels in the courthouse.

2001-2002, Restoration of the courthouse (windows, painting & general repair) for the 100th Anniversary July 4, 2002.

1902, Anderson County Board of Commissioners: Tom W. Parrott, George McAdam, and J.F. Hemming

2001-2002, Anderson County Board of Commissioners: Eugene Highberger, Dean Register and William Craig

Research and text by Dorothy Kipper Lickteig, President of Anderson County Historical Society.

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