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Lewis and Clark County Courthouse - Helena, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 46° 35.181 W 112° 02.159
12T E 420632 N 5159719
Quick Description: The second Lewis and Clark County Courthouse in Helena, the first was built in Public Square in 1867,
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 11/10/2018 9:01:52 PM
Waymark Code: WMZGVF
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
Views: 0

Long Description:
While touring the state capital, the writers of the American Guide Series book Montana, A State Guide Book stopped by the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse, then 52 years old. Following is their impression of the building.
9. LEWIS AND CLARK COUNTY COURTHOUSE (1885), Broadway between E. and W. Ewing Sts., was designed on old Norman lines by Wallingford and Stern, St. Paul architects. The walls are of gray granite, trimmed with red sandstone. The grounds, planted with grass, trees, and flowers, have the appearance of a small park. Because of earthquake damage, the tall clock tower was removed, and repairs made in 1936 otherwise altered the original roof pattern. A heavy stone coping, in particular, was eliminated, as being too great a hazard in the face of repeated quakes.
From Montana, a state guide book, Page 166
Designed by Hodgeson, Wallingford & Stern and built by Ryan and Brunton, construction on the present Lewis and Clark County Courthouse began in 1885, completion coming about in 1887. Richardsonian Romanesque in style, the three storey building was built entirely of stone, gray granite with brown sandstone accent.

Surrounding the massive archway of the main entrance are copious amounts of finely carved sandstone embellishments, which also appear elsewhere on the building. To the left of the same entrance is a large red terra cotta panel placed in recognition of the architects, the builders and the then current county commissioners.


Much Montana history unfolded within this magnificent landmark which served as both territorial capitol (1887-1888) and state capitol (1889-1902). Here in 1889 officials received word of statehood, and three hours later J. K. Toole was sworn in as Montana's first governor. St. Paul architects Hodgson and Stem drew heavily upon the Romanesque Revival style as influenced by H. H. Richardson, creating a masterpiece that rivaled eastern counterparts. The well-laid granite walls boast exceptionally fine Bayfield brownstone trim from Wisconsin (the same brownstone of New York's Fifth Avenue fame) and the interior appointments are also extraordinary. The building's splendid Norman clock tower presided over Helena until 1935, when earthquakes humbled its grandeur. The tower, fourth-story gables and a heavy stone cornice, adornments of little use during the Depression era, were not replaced.
From the NRHP plaque at the building
Lewis and Clark County Courthouse
Street No.		Court House - Entire Block
Original Owner	Lewis & Clark County
Original Use		Court House & State Capitol
Present Owner	Lewis & Clark County
Present Use		Court House
Wail Construction	Brick & Stone
No. of Stories		3
Name			L & C County Court House
Date or Period		1887
Style			Richardson Romanesque
Architect			Hodgeson,Wallingford & Stem
Builder			Ryan and Brunton
This building probably has the most historic significance and is also one of the best examples of the architectures of that period. The influence of H. H. Richardson is evident in the massive granite stonework. The two-color stone spandrel, a Richardsonian feature is evident here as on the Securities Building. The exquisitely carved stone capitals and the bases for the round Romanesque arches at the spring line show the influence of Louis Sullivan. The gray granite is no doubt of local origin and the brown sandstone is that same Bayfield brownstone that became the mark of Fifth Avenue mansions. The brownstone detail around the windows is as fine as that of Richardson on the famous Crane Library in Massachusetts. The workmanship in the laying of the granite is of especially good quality.

This building was the scene of the enactment of much of Montana's history, because it was the Territorial Capitol and later the State Capitol building until the present capitol building was completed about 1902. The Legislature met here in 1889. The administrative offices and the Supreme Court were also housed here. There is no question about retaining this building as a historic landmark in Helena.
From the NRHP Registration Form

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Book: Montana

Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 166

Year Originally Published: 1939

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