Welcome to the Lake County Courthouse.
This page will assist you with your self-guided tour, and provide you with a basic overview of the building and its displays.
Lake County was organized in 1856, and the small settlement of Beaver Bay was designated the seat of government. After the DM&IR Railway Company established an iron ore port at Agate Bay in 1884, the court system moved to Two Harbors. In 1888 a two-story frame Queen Anne style courthouse was built with an adjacent two-story brick sheriff's residence and jail.
In 1904 a fire consumed the original courthouse, but the jail was unharmed. In 1906, the present building was completed. The building was designed by architect James Allen MacLeod, in the Beaux Arts style. It is built of brick and stone; basically square in design, with a high, limestone-faced foundation. A low, semi-circular dome with a metallic, fish-scale pattern was placed on the top of the building. When the courthouse was built, the dome, located in the courtroom, was open.
Because of acoustical problems, the dome was enclosed in 1945 and is no longer visible. The building has brick quoins, stone window surrounds, and a projecting cornice with modillions placed above a wide frieze. A decorative parapet with a bank of concentric squares that simulates a Greek fret is still evident above the cornice. Two pairs of two story columns especially reflective of the Beaux Arts influence frame the main entry.
On December 19, 1905, the Lake County Board of Commissioners awarded a contract for painting a courtroom mural and corridors to the Odin J. Oyen decorating firm in LaCrosse, Wisconsin for $1,500.00. Artist Axel Edward Soderberg, the firm's artist, painted the mural "Law and Justice" and three others depicting commerce, mining and forestry.
During the 1990s, the original sheriff's residence and jail were demolished and replaced with a new courthouse addition, known
In 2002 utilizing a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society and county funds, the Board of Commissioners approved a project to install air handling on the second floor and restore all the ceilings of the hallway, stairway and two offices to their former grandeur. During the restoration process, six skylights were uncovered when the old suspended ceiling was removed. The glass was replaced as the original was damaged, but it is no longer open to the outside. A stained glass window depicting "Law and Justice," done by Ronald P. Benson of Two Harbors, was added to the stairwell landing. Period light fixtures and a painting scheme were also added. The project was completed in December 2002.
On the second floor of the courthouse is a permanent display of historic photographs taken by local barber and photographer William Roleff depicting north woods lumbering activities in the early 1900s. Other historic photos from the collections of Steve Gordon and Todd Lindahl of Two Harbors, are located throughout the building.
Revolving displays of photographs and artwork are displayed in the atrium of the Law Enforcement Center throughout the year. These works are typically done by local artists.