Grant County Courthouse (Minnesota)

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Grant County Courthouse
Grant County Courthouse 2012.jpg
Grant County Courthouse (Minnesota) is located in Minnesota
Grant County Courthouse (Minnesota)
Grant County Courthouse (Minnesota) is located in the United States
Grant County Courthouse (Minnesota)
Location10 2nd St. NE, Elbow Lake, Minnesota
Coordinates45°59′42″N 95°58′35″W / 45.99500°N 95.97639°W / 45.99500; -95.97639Coordinates: 45°59′42″N 95°58′35″W / 45.99500°N 95.97639°W / 45.99500; -95.97639
Arealess than one acre
Built byPrince Construction Co.
ArchitectBell & Detweiler
Architectural styleBeaux Arts, Renaissance
NRHP reference #85001945[1]
Added to NRHPSeptember 5, 1985

The Grant County Courthouse in Elbow Lake, Minnesota, United States, is the county seat of Grant County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This building was opened in 1906, replacing the county's first courthouse which opened in 1878. The original building had four rooms and a hall on the first level, while the courtroom on the second level was accessed by an outside stairway. One source indicated that trials were held in nearby Douglas County until 1883, though.[2]

In 1881, the town of Herman induced the Minnesota Legislature to put a question on the election ballot to move the county seat to Herman. At that time, Elbow Lake was a tiny residential community without railroad access and with little commerce, while Herman had railroad access, several businesses, and a population of several hundred. The election ended up with 439 votes to move the county seat to Herman, versus 369 to keep it in Elbow Lake. This was a total of 808 votes when there were 872 registered voters in the county. Private citizens started building a courthouse in Herman, and when that building was finished, a number of citizens raided the county offices in Elbow Lake and removed all the records to Herman. The election was challenged in court, with Knute Nelson and H. Jenkins representing Elbow Lake and L.W. Collins representing Herman. The investigation revealed that the vote from Erdahl Township had never been counted, Logan Township had turned in more votes than the number of registered voters, and that supporters of Herman had hired workers from Anoka and Minneapolis to work as laborers on the streets and to cast illegitimate votes. There were also six votes from minors and eight votes from men who were not American citizens. On August 19, 1882, the court found in Elbow Lake's favor.[3]:392 Knute Nelson later went on to become a Congressional representative, the governor of Minnesota, and then a U.S. Senator.[2]

Grant County developed rapidly in the 1890s, and county records and business made it necessary to build a bigger building. A tax levy was started in 1899, and in 1904 the county advertised that it was ready for plans. The firm of Bell & Detweiler was chosen. The Prince Construction Company of Minneapolis agreed to construct the building for $60,202, and began construction in spring 1905. The building was completed in April 1906. County attorney E.J. Scofield moved in on May 21, 1906, and the courthouse was formally dedicated on July 23, 1906.[3]:394–395

The building has three stories and is designed in a Beaux-Arts architecture style. The towering dome rises 102.5 feet (31.2 m) above ground level, with the building measuring 97 by 75 feet (30 by 23 m). The Portwing brownstone came from a quarry near Duluth. It has a slate roof, terrazzo floors, pink Tennessee marble wainscoting in the main corridor, and marble borders in other corridors.[2]

A suspicious incident happened in July 2005, when three men dressed as Grant County Highway Department workers stole the cornerstone from the building in the early morning. The citizens of Herman were suspected again, even though it had been 123 years since the courthouse was relocated to Elbow Lake. A few days later, the cornerstone turned up at the Grant County Fair in Herman, where fairgoers could pay a $20 donation to get their photo taken with the stolen cornerstone. The money went to the Grant County Historical Society, and the cornerstone was later returned to Elbow Lake.[4]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b c "Building Location Details: Grant County Courthouse". Minnesota Judicial Branch. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
  3. ^ a b Larson, Constant, ed (1916). History of Douglas and Grant counties, Minnesota: their people, industries, and institutions. Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Logue, Mary; Douglas Ohman (2006). Courthouses of Minnesota. Minnesota Historical Society. ISBN 0-87351-550-1.