Bonner County's First Courthouse - Sandpoint, ID
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 48° 16.320 W 116° 32.864
11U E 533559 N 5346631
The first and second county courthouses in Sandpoint are side-by-side and have actually been turned into a single complex over the years. The WPA aided in renovating the old courthouse in the '30s, while major additions occurred from 1973 on.
Waymark Code: WMN9EH
Location: Idaho, United States
Date Posted: 01/24/2015
Published By:Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 1

Bonner County Court House

by Bob Gunter

The bill forming Bonner County was passed in 1907 and there was dis-order in the court. The city of Sandpoint had a jail and courthouse but the new county government had offices that were scattered all over town. The treasurer and commissioners were renting some space from Ignatz Weil for $15 a month. The other arms of the new county government were placed in various buildings and the grand total of rent was $60 per month.

Building a courthouse was in order but politics and skeletons got in the way. Workmen preparing the property on 1st Street, now 1st Avenue, found two skeletons barely covered with dirt. One was in a wooden box and more likely a white man and the other was an Indian. The area had once been an old Indian burial ground.

Not to be outdone the politicians brought their own political skeletons out of the closet. The republican commissioners could not agree with the one democrat and the project seemed stalled. That is when Mr. and Mrs. Ignatz Weil offered to build a temporary building and rent it to the county for $150 per month. It was to be a two-story frame structure and occupy part of the Weil Orchard and front First Street. That was the area where the present courthouse now stands. In fact, the house many people call the McFarland house, located on 1st Avenue and Highway 95, was the Weil home.

Ignatz Weil feared that the frame building might be subject to fire so he had the builders use brick. This made expenses higher and he asked the County for $200 a month. The fear that the rent could be raised again prompted the commissioners to respond to Weil's offer to sell the county the courthouse. His asking price was just what he had paid for the building plus a few dollars for the land and it could be paid in installments. There finally came "order in the courthouse" and a decision to purchase was made in 1908.

In the 1930s the WPA made extensive alterations and additions to the original building. Nellie Garrison recalls, "It was during the depression and people needed food. My father was caught poaching deer and since they had no jail they sentenced him to help the WPA build the courthouse and jail."

As time passed it seemed as if the old building was brought before a judge and heard the following, "You are sentenced to five alteration and addition projects. These are to be carried out consecutively starting in 1973 and will continue until you lose all your character and any identifying features that would lead one to believe that you were ever a courthouse. You can no longer look out on 1st avenue but must spend the rest of your days looking out on a parking lot."
From Sandpoint History


Project type: Government building (non-park)

Date built or created: 1908

Location: Bonner County Courthouse

City: Sandpoint, ID

Condition: Good upkeep with a little wear and tear

Website for additional information: [Web Link]

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