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Okanogan County Courthouse - Okanogan, WA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 48° 21.915 W 119° 34.874
11U E 308822 N 5360116
Quick Description: Overlooking downtown and the Okanogan River, the Spanish mission style Okanogan County Courthouse is nothing if not the most visible building in the town.
Location: Washington, United States
Date Posted: 1/7/2019 3:15:16 PM
Waymark Code: WMZV8B
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
Views: 0

Long Description:
Probably difficult to miss in the 1930s and '40s, the writers of the American Guide Series book, Washington: a guide to the Evergreen state didn't miss the courthouse, making the following comments:

OKANOGAN, 51.8 m. (829 alt., 1,735 pop.), the center of government in Okanogan County since 1915, is also headquarters for the Chelan National Forest. Though less populous than Omak, it has a larger and more impressive business district. The six blocks of brick and frame buildings occupy a narrow valley on a delta bar, at the mouth of Salmon Creek. The Okanogan River winds slowly and quietly a few hundred feet left of Second Avenue, the main thorough fare. Across a steel bridge spanning the stream are rows of warehouses, packing plants, and the railroad tracks.

On a knoll west of the commercial center is the OKANOGAN COUNTY COURTHOUSE, a semimission type of structure in gray concrete, with a jail above the two floors of offices. An ornate cupola rises above the entrance, and expansive green lawns surround the buildings.
From Washington: a guide to the Evergreen state

Built in 1915, the courthouse was designed by architect George H. Keith of Spokane to be built of hollow tile and concrete, with an exterior plaster finish and red tile roof, making it just a "tiny bit" different in appearance from the more conventional classically styled courthouses of surrounding counties. Now appearing as two adjoining sections, the the original 1915 (southwest) section, is the more detailed of the two, with Roman arched windows and small dormers, neither of which appear on the northeast section. This is primarily because the northeast section, the annex, was not added until 1950. Today most of the primary functions of the building have shifted to the annex. This annex, designed by L. Solberg of Wenatchee, is sufficiently compatible in design with the 1915 courthouse that it is considered part of the courthouse by the NRHP.

The most noticeable aspect of the original courthouse is its 82-foot clock tower, centred in the section and doing double duty as the main entrance. High on the tower's four sides are round faced clocks with Roman Numeral numbers. Above is a small square cupola, atop which is the obligatory flagpole and flag. An interesting touch is the inclusion of four light standards, one on each corner of the tower at the base of the cupola, each one with a round glass globe at its top.

Beginning almost immediately after the completion of the 1915 courthouse, additions began to be made, first a small three bay garage for county cars, followed by a much larger single-story garage along Fourth Avenue, to the southwest. In 1956 this garage was converted for use as a county jail, eliminating the ground floor jail from the 1915 building. In 1983 the jail was expanded and includes the older 1956 section.

Okanogan County Courthouse

The Okanogan County Courthouse is a unique and quite well preserved example of Mission—Style architecture that stands like a patriarch overlooking the city of Okanogan. It was built in 1915 as the result of the movement of county government from Conconully to Okanogan, which became the third county seat in Washington's largest county. It is a local landmark that not only represents thought and architecture of another time but also encompasses over 100 years of Okanogan County history. For those pioneers who struggled, toiled and waited for the development of the country, the establishment of the courthouse at a permanent location marked the beginning of a brighter era for Okanogan and the county.

The creation of Okanogan County marked a climax of an evolution which began after Americans in the Willamette Valley decided to claim an enormous territory—the "Oregon Country," extending from California north to Russian America (Alaska) and from the Pacific east to the Rocky Mts. An Oregon provisional government was formed in 1843 which created four huge counties including the Calackamas, the first entity to include the Okanogan. Through the years the Okanogan country was finally reduced to its present shape and size, 5,295 square miles, in 1899.

On the morning of December 28th, 1914, the county offices opened up for business at Okanogan in the old Freer store building, which had been fixed up as a temporary courthouse to house the auditor, treasurer, assessor, engineer and the clerk of the court. The prosecutor was in an office over the post office and a makeshift jail was fixed up in the Miller Building. Court was- held in the city council chamber.

County commissioners ... proceeded without delay to arrange for the building of a new courthouse. George H. Keith, an architect from Spokane, was employed to prepare plans. The contract for building the structure was let on January 6, 1915, to D. D. Davenport of Omak... ...The site selected was the one which had been donated for that purpose by Chas. C. Woodhouse, Jr., of Republic, Washington, which was all of Block 11 in the original townsite of North Alma, in Okanogan County.

The first ground was broken about March 1st and the corner stone was laid April 16, 1915, after which there was a parade with three town bands, a city-wide celebration and a ball game in the afternoon, all with a huge crowd: in attendance. The building was sufficiently completed for occupancy shortly after mid-October and the moving of the officials to the new building occurred on the 20th day of October.

Keith's statement of the cost of the courthouse, together with furnishings and improvements, was $37,018.23, and value of real estate donated to the county was $3,000.
From the NRHP Registration Form


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Book: Washington

Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 456

Year Originally Published: 1941

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