Clay County's first formal courthouse was built in 1879. The one-story brick building with a single-ridged roof and arched windows and doorways was built at Eighth Street and First Avenue North. Lamb Bros. constructed the 25 by 50 foot building at a cost of $2,136.a
Its replacement was completed in 1883. The Romanesque-style building was built of bricks from the Bergquist yards and stood on land donated by John Bergquist just west of the current courthouse (pictured above). Its most prominent feature was a room-sized square corner tower rising from the foundation to a steep pyramidal roof.
Keese and Fisk drew plans for the building that was excavated by J.L. Bjorkquist, and built by John Seegar of Moorhead and Pauly Bros. at a total cost of $60,625. Electric lights and steam heat were installed in 1908, and in 1917 an addition was built at a cost of $11,135. The building was demolished in 1954, when the courts moved into a new three-story rectangular block building.
The building includes a two-story, smooth, stone-faced block projecting over the center of the first story. The light-colored stone of the exterior walls contrasts with the horizontal bands formed by the windows and brick spandrels. M.O. Foss and Associates of Fargo designed the building and Meinecke-Johnson Construction Co. built it at a total cost of $725,000.
This drawing shows the Clay County Courthouse in 1954.
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