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Beaver County Courthouse


The Beaver County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.

Description

Beaver County Courthouse, a red brick two-story building, with basement and attic, exemplifies Victorian pretentiousness in public buildings of the 1880's. The overall dimensions are 39' x 55' excluding the rear additions. The foundations are whitewashed sandstone. The brick wall has a three-course projecting water table and headers each ninth course. The floors and roof are wood frame. The front steps have eleven risers and a curved sandstone railing partially plastered over. The front entrance is sheltered by a balcony supported by turned struts.

The main entrance doors on the Beaver County Courthouse are three-panel with a glass transom with a single vertical muntin. The windows and entrance openings are elliptically arched with brick voussoirs and ornamental wood keystones.

The roof is a steep green shingled mansard and low pitch standing seam. Small hipped dormers flank the large gabled dormers east and west and north tower. The tower has a clock on three sides in gables surmounted by shingle broach roof transition to octagonal louvered lantern topped by octagonal dome with four bull's-eye windows and iron weather vane.

The Beaver County Courthouse basement has vertical deep rooms open from the central hall. The first floor contains offices open to left and right of the central corridor leading past the stair. A square courtroom occupies the front of the second floor. Behind is a stair landing with offices on either side. The attic is partially finished as small offices.

The original wood flooring has been covered with linoleum. The walls and ceilings are painted plaster. Interior doors are five panel with glass transoms to offices.

The Beaver County Courthouse courtroom ceiling is divided into nine coffers by beams in both directions with acorn pendants at intersections. Beams rest on turned struts coming out of flat pilasters. Two metal pipe columns under the back corners of this tower have metal capitals ornamented with leaves and an ornamental band at eye level. The judge's bench has small heavily moulded panels behind heavily ornamented columnar forms which support a sort of cornice which surrounds the counter surface. Windows and doors are framed with fluted pilasters; keystones of the elliptical arches are brackets surmounted by segmental arched pediments. Railings have partially turned balusters and newels with hemispherical bumps on balusters and sides of railing.

Though having undergone minor alterations, the structure's integrity remains. The site could easily be restored to a first-rate condition.

Significance

Beaver County had been created by the Territorial Legislature in 1855. General management of the county was entrusted to the County Court which consisted of a probate judge and three selectmen, who jointly possessed the power of the county Commissions today. In 1876 the 6,000 inhabitants of the county elected to build Beaver County Courthouse to house the Second Judicial District Court of the Territory of Utah.

Because of Indian unrest during the Black Hawk War, the trials of John D. Lee, associated with the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and a general desire on the part of the Federal government to maintain a watchful eye over "Mormons" to the south, both the Beaver County Courthouse, the seat of Federal authority, and Fort Cameron, with Federal troops nearby, played significant roles in the lives of these early Utahans. In fact, William Stokes, a former Union soldier, directed the building of the courthouse. The architect is unknown.

Although begun in 1876, the Beaver County Courthouse was not completed until 1882, at a cost of $10,960. Fire partially destroyed the structure in 1889, but it was soon rebuilt with many improvements. Later additions to the rear include a 32' x 29' vault and a jail.

The second trail of John D. Lee was held in the Second Judicial District Court in Beaver, Utah during December 1876. The Beaver County Courthouse, only in early excavation stages at the time, was not the site for these trials.

Nevertheless, this lovely courthouse remains in use today by Beaver County, an emblem of the pretentious construction in public buildings during the Territorial period. It also symbolized the Federal Government's attempts to govern and "observe" the Mormons during a period when the practice of Polygamy heightened those conflicts.

References

Goeldner, Paul. Utah Catalog: Historic American Buildings Survey, Salt Lake City, 1969) pp.25, 53.

Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Monuments to Courage, A History of Beaver County, Beaver press, 1948.

Bancroft, Herbert Howe, History of Utah, Bookcraft Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1964.

Neff, Andrew Love, History of Utah, 1847-1869, The Deseret News Press, Salt Lake City, 1940.

"Cover Story: A Man Alone," American Bar Association Journal, LVI (March, 1970), 245-247.

  1. Smith, Melvin T., Utah State Historical Society, Beaver County Courthouse, nomination document, 1970, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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