Douglas County Courthouse - Waterville, WA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 47° 38.769 W 120° 04.095
10T E 720177 N 5281137
Quick Description: The present Douglas County Courthouse was the fourth to be built to serve as the county courthouse and the third to be built in the present county seat, Waterville.
Location: Washington, United States
Date Posted: 6/13/2018 2:50:40 PM
Waymark Code: WMYGHM
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 0

Long Description:
Douglas and Lincoln Counties were created in 1883, 6 years before Washington was to become a state. Were it not for the lobbying efforts of a Mr. J. W. Adams, a "professional townsite boomer", there would have been only a Lincoln County. The original county seat was a place named Okanogan City, later to become the present day hamlet of Douglas. A 24 foot by 36 foot store was built on the site and was used as the county courthouse. When it turned out that there was no usable water to be had the county seat was moved six miles west to a new town named, quite appropriately, Waterville. The county legally became a county in 1888 and a small shack, the second building on the site, was built. In 1889 a permanent courthouse was built, a substantial two storey wood frame building which managed to survive several years before burning down. Shortly after, construction was begun on the present building in 1905. Designed by architect Newton C. Gauntt, the building was constructed by William Oliver, Contractor.

Logo A rather elegant two storey brick building with daylight basement, it remains in use as the courthouse and is in excellent overall condition. Though the interior has undergone substantial redecoration, little actual alterations have been done, leaving the building appearing essentially as it did, both inside and out, when built.

The courthouse's tower is described in the nomination form as being "an almost whimsical contradiction to the solid and simple structure below". Beginning as a square brick tower over the entrance, it quickly becomes an octagonal wooden tower, open all around, with an overstated witch's cap for a roof. That witch's cap is a bit out of scale with the rest of the building, adding visual appeal to the building as a whole.

Douglas County Courthouse

The Douglas County Courthouse at Waterville is a two story brick building on a stone foundation with a daylight basement mostly above grade. It is square in plan, approximately 60 feet on each side.

The Douglas County Courthouse is an interesting example of courthouse architecture in that it seems at the same time pleasant and imposing. The tower spire and roof detailing are an almost whimsical contradiction to the solid and simple structure below, lending considerable interest to what is otherwise an ordinary building in most respects.

The medium bell cast hip roof is interrupted by stepped parapet gable wings centered on opposite sides and a square entrance tower in front. The parapets rise in Mission style curves and steps with a slightly projecting moulding that follows along the top edge.

The entrance tower and the parapet gable wings all project only slightly from the square plan of the central structure. The foundation stonework of these elements flares out a few degrees from plumb, emphasizing their solid footing. At the base of the tower is a Romanesque entrance arch. The stonework at this entrance is continued several feet beyond the level of the first floor above which there is a transition to brick elsewhere on the building. It terminates in mouldings that follow ogee shaped "shoulders" flanking a horizontal sill for the windows above. These windows are on a landing in the main stairwell directly inside the entrance tower and they maintain the same height and level as the brick spandrels between the first and second floor windows on the remaining building. Over this window grouping is a recessed spandrel and, at the next landing, a set of windows and transoms within a stilted arch. The spandrel frames the words "DOUGLAS COUNTY COURT-HOUSE" in raised letters. Together with window openings of equivalent width above and below, the spandrel recess is a part of a single tall arch form resting on the entrance arch below.

Interrupting the four foot overhang and its scroll sawn rafter tails, the tower continues upward over the roof as a square shaft crowned by an open woodwork balcony with an octagonal bell cast spire and flag pole finial. The brick shaft includes two rows of decorative corbeling and a set of four elliptical windows in between the rows on each side.
From the NRHP Nomination Form


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Street address:
203 South Rainier Street
Waterville, WA United States
98858


County / Borough / Parish: Douglas

Year listed: 1975

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Politics/Government, Architecture

Periods of significance: 1900-1924

Historic function: Government - Courthouse

Current function: Government - Courthouse

Privately owned?: no

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 2: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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