Viewing Courthouses, Jails & Prisons Category (48) found:
In 1885 the Board of Corrections and Charities submitted its First Biennial Report to the Legislature. It was compiled and written by Hastings Hornell Hart, the secretary of the Board. After his appointment in 1883, Hart inspected each of Minnesota's 55 jails and even toured public facilities in other states. He set forth his findings and recommendations in "The Jail System of Minnesota" that was intended to shock the Board and Legislature into reforming the jail system. A superb writer, he skillfully wove anecdotes into his descriptions of county jails to demonstrate their deficiencies:
In 1891, the State Board of Corrections and Charities published its Fourth Biennial Report to the Legislature, covering the years 1888-1890. As usual, it included a report from its meticulous, reform-minded secretary, Hastings Hornell Hart, on the conditions of each jail he had inspected during this period. Hart's descriptions were short, candid and fair. He quoted inmates on the quality of their meals, grand jury recommendations and even listed the exact dimensions of cells in some facilities, as for example, Stearns County's:
In April 1893, the state legislature passed a law that transformed control and management of the county jail, an important segment of the criminal justice system. Because the elected county board was frequently reluctant to use public funds for necessary repairs and upkeep of the jail, the reform act restricted county commissioners' operating authority over the jail while requiring them to fund the sheriff's jail budget; it increased the responsibilities of jail keepers while imposing penalties on them for violating their new duties; it empowered the State Board of Corrections and Charities to review new jail remodeling and construction projects; and it authorized district court judges to condemn jails and even approve the hiring of additional personnel by the sheriff.
This account of the building of the state penitentiary in Stillwater appeared first in William H. C. Folsom's "Fifty Years in the Northwest," published in 1888.
The first prison was constructed in Stillwater in 1851-1853. There were no prisoners in 1853, and only 2 the next year, although it held 7 or 8 prisoners from counties that did not have suitable jails. The population rapidly increased over the decades, from 16 in 1860, to 39 in1870, 254 in 1880, 314 in 1890, and 703 in 1905 (14 of whom were women). In its first years, the few convicts had one-half of their heads shaved to distinguish them; later they were outfitted with uniforms. The "contract labor" system by which convicts were leased to private companies was prohibited by the legislature in 1895. Thereafter inmates were put to work manufacturing twine and shoes; in 1907, 225 convicts worked in the twine factory and 250 in the shoe factory. They were profitable: in 1907, the prison grossed $2,250,000 from both enterprises.
Becker County was formed on March 18, 1858, but construction of its courthouse and jail were delayed for years because of disputes over the location of the county seat. Finally, on Decoration Day, 1885, the new courthouse and jail were dedicated in Detroit, the county seat.
Blue Earth County was organized March 5, 1853. Its first jail was completed January 1, 1857, and ten years later, construction of its first courthouse was completed.
Brown County was formed on February 20, 1855. Its first jail was a log building erected in 1859 in New Ulm, the county seat. It was replaced in 1865 by a brick building, and in 1872, a combined jail and court house was built. In 1889 the present court house was built and in 1915, work began on a separate jail and sheriff's home.
In 1883, twenty-one years after Chippewa County was formed, its first courthouse and jail were built. Over the decades, parts of that building were added to, remodeled, and condemned. In 1910, the jail was replaced, and in 1957, a new courthouse was built.
Ten years after Clay County was formed on March 8, 1862, Moorhead was designated the county seat. Court proceedings were first held in the second story of a small 20 X 30 feet frame building that was sold in 1878. A new court house and jail were erected in 1882-1883, and modernized many times in the following decades.
Cottonwood County was formed May 23, 1857. Private homes and stores were leased for government purposes until 1883, when the first court house was erected in Windom at a cost of $2,916.62. In 1905, a second court house, still in use, was built at a cost of $100,000.
Dakota County was formed October 27, 1849. Over two decades later, the courthouse was built in Hastings, the county seat. This account of the construction of the courthouse was published first in a joint history of Dakota and Goodhue Counties published in 1910.
Land for the site of the first courthouse of Dodge County, formed on February 20, 1855, was acquired in the town of Mantorville in 1865. While construction was completed early the following year, improvements were made to the building over the next six years.
Douglas County was formed March 8, 1858. Its first court house, completed in 1876, was replaced by an entirely new structure in 1895. The first county jail was erected in 1868; it was replaced in 1880 by a new building that was so unhealthy and unsafe that the state board of corrections and charities condemned it in 1899. In 1900, a new jail that had "every modern convenience" was built.
Faribault County was formed on February 20, 1855. Its first court house was erected in 1872 in Blue Earth City.
Fillmore County was formed March 5, 1853. Its first courthouse was built by county residents, who furnished labor and bought the material. It was dedicated on July 4, 1864.
In the fall of 1866, nine years after Freeborn County was formed, its first courthouse was erected in the county seat, Albert Lea. A jail was built in 1875. In 1887, a new courthouse was constructed.
Goodhue County was formed March 5, 1853, and the construction of its courthouse was completed by the end of the decade. This history of that courthouse appeared first in a joint history of Dakota and Goodhue Counties published in 1910.
Grant County was formed on March 6, 1868, and its first courthouse was erected ten years later. That was replaced by a new courthouse in 1906.
Kittson County was formed March 9, 1878. Lacking official quarters, county officials had offices in different towns in the county. The first court session was held in Hotel Hallock in 1881. In 1892, after some "agitation," a court house was erected in Hallock, the county seat.
The commissioners of Lac qui Parle County, organized March 6, 1871, leased "a small frame building," once used as a hotel in the village of Lac qui Parle, as the courthouse until 1875. A store building was rented from 1875 to 1883, when a new courthouse was built and occupied. In November 1886, the county seat was relocated to Madison, where a new courthouse was erected.
LeSueur County was formed May 5, 1853. The county rented space for court proceedings and other official purposes until 1897, when construction of its first courthouse was completed. In 1914, the county jail was built. This history of the LeSueur County courthouse and jail appeared in a history of the county published in 1916.
Although McLeod County was formed on March 1, 1856, it did not have a courthouse for over two decades. On January 7, 1876, the county commissioners invited the citizens of Glencoe, the county seat, to donate land and money for the erection of a county courthouse and jail. They responded and the buildings were completed late that year. The jail, however, quickly became antiquated, and it was sold for $25.50 in March 1882.
Martin County's first courthouse was built by hand in 1862 by William H. Budd, five years after the county was formed. It was replaced in 1880.
Although Meeker County was organized on February 23, 1856, it did not erect its first jail and courthouse until the mid-1880s. Brief descriptions of those buildings appeared in a county history published in 1888.
Morrison County was formed on February 23, 1855. Its first courthouse in was built in Little Falls the early 1870s, and was used about twenty years. In the early 1890s, the second courthouse was erected. In October 1891, that building was wired for electricity. The county jail was constructed in 1888, and remodeled in 1897, but it proved ill-suited for housing prisoners.
Mower County was established on February 23, 1855. The county commissioners rented rooms for meetings from 1857 to 1868, when a two story courthouse was erected in Austin. In 1881, the commissioners authorized construction of a larger courthouse, which was completed and occupied in March, 1884.
Murray County, formed May 23, 1857, used a "temporary" courthouse until it bought a building in Slayton, the county seat, for official use in 1875. A new courthouse was erected seven years later. In 1892, the third courthouse was built, and it lasted 89 years.
Nicollet County was formed March 5, 1853. In its first few years, county officials transacted business in private facilities. At the end of the decade, a building which had been built to be the new state capitol was donated to the county, and it served as the court house until 1881, when a new building made of red, "home-made" brick was completed.
In 1904, the first courthouse of Norman County, which was formed on February 17, 1881, was built in Ada. Its construction culminated a fierce battle between the towns of Ada and Twin Valley over the location of the county seat.
The first courthouse of Olmsted County, formed on February 20, 1855, was built in Rochester three years later. It was replaced in 1866 by a new building, financed by cash the county had on hand, eliminating the need for a special tax.
Otter Tail County, established on March 18, 1858, had four county seats in the following decades: Otter Tail City, Clitherall, Tordenskjold and Fergus Falls. While official government business was conducted at each site, a court house was never built in the first three towns. A "sollid oak log" jail was built in Otter Tail City about 1871, but it was moved log by log to Fergus Falls after it was designated the county seat in 1872. The first county court house was built in Fergus Falls in 1881. Because of the county's growth, a large addition was built in 1888, another in 1898, two more in 1902 and 1909, and a fifth in 1915. A new jail, constructed in 1885, was considered the "finest penal institution in the state of its kind."
From May 23, 1857, when it was formed, to January 1902, Pipestone County did not have a courthouse. This account of where county business was conducted during its first forty-five years and the efforts that culminated in the erection of a courthouse made of "Pipestone red building stone," appeared in a county history published in 1911.
For the first decade after it was formed on February 6, 1862, Redwood County officials transacted business out of their homes or at the office of a resident of Redwood Falls, the county seat. In 1873, a courthouse was built. A new brick courthouse was constructed in 1891. Its courtroom seats 800-1,000 spectators. The county jail was erected in 1895.
The story of the court houses and jails of Renville County is entwined with bitter battles over the location of county seat that raged for forty-five years after the county was established on February 20, 1855.
Rice County was formed March 7, 1853. Twenty years later, county commissioners purchased land in Faribault, the county seat, for a courthouse. That building was completed in 1874. The county jail was built in 1873, remodeled in 1890, and condemned in 1910. A new jail was built shortly thereafter.
In the wake of a bitter battle over the location of the county seat, the county commissioners pressed forward on their plan to build a courthouse, jail and sheriff's residence in Luverne. The first proposal to float bonds for $75,000 was not favorably received by the public. The amount was reduced to $50,000, but that also was considered too much. Finally the voters approved bonds totaling $30,000 by a 2:1 margin in June 1887. The building contract was let in August and the structure completed a year later, thirty-one years after the county was formed by the legislature.
The first court house in St. Louis County was a room in Luce's warehouse where numerous government services were provided--it was a post office, land office, and register of deeds office, among others. Court proceedings, however, were not held there. In 1859, four years after the county was formed, the first court session was held "in a little unfurnished room" in an unidentified building in Duluth.
When the St. Paul City Hall-Ramsey County Courthouse was dedicated in late 1932, no one foresaw that it would become renowned as an architectural masterpiece. Yet that it is what it is today: an art deco classic.
Stearns County was formed February 20, 1855. After many starts and stops, its first courthouse was finished in 1864. In the following decades, as the county grew, its needs did also, but the county board would only authorize additions to the courthouse in the 1870s and 1880s. In 1915, the author of a county history described it as "one of the most ill-constructed, ill-looking and inconvenient court houses to be found in the state."
Steele County was formed February 20, 1855. Thirty-seven years later, on March 14, 1892, construction of the county's first courthouse in Owatonna was completed. A county jail was built in the 1860s and lasted almost four decades. In 1903, a new jail, "representing the latest ideas in that class of construction," was built.
Formed on February 20, 1855, Todd County's first courthouse was an existing, newly-mortared building in Long Prairie, which it received as a donation in 1870. Three years later, a new two-storied courthouse was built. In 1883, another courthouse, the county's third, was erected. In 1900, forty-five years after the county was formed, its first jail was built.
Waseca County was formed February 27, 1857. Almost a half century later, James E. Child published his history of that county. Child was a lawyer-turned-journalist, state legislator, and Prohibition Party candidate for governor in 1886. Like many county historians of this period, his book consists of year-by-year accounts of interesting events in the county, most culled from newspapers.
Formed on February 25, 1860, Watonwan County leased space in commercial stores in Madelia to conduct government business until its first court house was erected in St. James, the new county seat, in 1895.
Wilkin County was established March 6, 1868. Fourteen years later its courthouse was built in Breckenridge, the county seat. On New Year's Eve, 1882, it burned down, leaving taxpayers with a debt of about $40,000.
One week after Winona County was formed on February 23, 1854, its commissioners bought land for county buildings in Winona, the county seat. Construction, however, was delayed, forcing the county to rent space until 1862, when a new county building was constructed and occupied. Twenty years later, the commissioners authorized erection of a new courthouse, which was dedicated in 1887.
In 1859 Wright County's first jail was built in Monticello, the county seat. Eight years later, however, the county seat was relocated to Buffalo, and the jail abandoned. On January 1, 1878, almost twenty-three years after the county was formed, county officials occupied a new courthouse in Buffalo.
Although Yellow Medicine City was the seat of Yellow Medicine County, a courthouse was built in Granite Falls in the spring of 1874. Voters approved a change of the county seat to Granite Falls in the November 1874 election. This is an excerpt from a county history published in 1972.