Pennington and Red Lake were once part of Polk County. Unfortunately for Pennington, much of the cost of the Red Lake Falls courthouse was assessed just before Pennington voters elected to separate from Red Lake in 1910. As a result, the new Pennington County was only able to afford old remodeled buildings as its courthouse.
The county commissioners let a contract for remodeling former city buildings at a cost of $6,150 into a rectangular, two-story building. However, the combination of two separate buildings could be seen by its different windows and two doorways. The double building with tin ceilings and converted gas fixtures served Pennington County for 45 years.
In 1948, an advisory committee was appointed to develop a new courthouse. The following year, Foss & Co. of Moorhead was selected as the architect. Years of controversy over the site and payment followed, but construction bids were finally awarded and $295,000 in bonds were sold in 1954. The old courthouse was demolished and office space was rented in another building.
The current courthouse opened in September 1955. It is 64 by 145 feet and is built in the boxy style of that period. Windows are set in three long horizontal bands across the front with green panels above and below. A cast stone molding frames the two upper stories, excluding the two end bays of tan brick. A three-story strip of glass brick interrupts the sold brick of the north and south ends. Two black marble rectangles support a cantilevered concrete canopy over the centered entrance.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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