Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A quick tour of the impressive Pierce County, Wisconsin, courthouse November 20, 2014

The stately Pierce County Courthouse in Ellsworth, Wisconsin.

The stately Pierce County Courthouse in Ellsworth, Wisconsin.

IT’S AN IMPRESSIVE BUILDING defining a hilltop in the center of Ellsworth, The Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin.

This beautiful stone sculpture rises above the front courthouse entry. Anyone know anything about the sculpture?

This beautiful stone sculpture rises above the front courthouse entry. Anyone know anything about the sculpture?

Stately columns, a dome, stone sculptures and a certain sense of strength mark the Pierce County Courthouse constructed in 1905 at a cost of $85,000.

After picking up coveted cheese curds at Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, my husband and I returned to the courthouse we’d passed along Main Street en route to the creamery during an early October visit. We both appreciate old architecture and the courthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, seemed a must-see.

Up close details of the upper exterior.

Up close details of the upper exterior.

Designed in the Beaux Arts Style of architecture by St. Paul architects Buecher & Orth, this massive structure presents a powerful presence, seemingly fitting for a place that serves as the center of county government and houses the courts. A jail was built adjacent to the courthouse and completed in 1968.

Rotunda murals depict the area's natural beauty.

Rotunda murals depict the area’s natural beauty.

Public space along the impressive stairway.

Public seating along the stairway landing.

Details on the stairs credit the source of the work.

Details on the stairs credit the source of the work.

Look at that beautiful floor.

Look at that beautiful floor.

The law, in the form of a deputy sheriff, showed up when we self-toured the public space of the courthouse. I don’t know if he was dispatched to check out “the woman with the camera” and her companion or he simply happened upon us. But I sensed that we were being watched. And I suppose that’s OK in today’s world.

Looking down from the rotunda.

Looking down from the rotunda.

Our tour proved brief given the public space is small and I wasn’t about to enter the courtroom, although I was tempted.

Beautiful railings, although my husband questioned whether this was meant to be the color.

Beautiful railings, although my husband questioned whether the color is original or mimics the original.

Interestingly enough, the Pierce County, Wisconsin, courthouse has a twin courthouse in Rugby in Pierce County, North Dakota. Same architect. Same style. Built in 1908 and also on the National Register of Historic Places.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Advertisements
 

17 Responses to “A quick tour of the impressive Pierce County, Wisconsin, courthouse”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    I haven’t seen any new construction these days that resemble style like this. It’s too bad, but I suspect it is mostly budge considerations. Most newly constructed government buildings these days have a fairly plain institution look and feel.

    • I expect you’re correct that it all comes down to cost. If something like this courthouse was constructed today, taxpayers would revolt at the waste of money. And rightly so. Thus it’s important to preserve and protect places like the Pierce County Courthouse.

  2. Loving your captures – thanks so much for sharing 🙂 They do not build like this anymore and it is nice when a building like this can be maintained.

  3. Beautiful courthouse. I’ve seen so many out here in the Midwest that are almost condemned.

  4. Don Singsaas Says:

    Architecture of old = interesting eye appealing and quality craftsmanship. Built to last look and feel vs new architecture = cookie cutter shape with lots of glass, disposable look and feel. My opinion of course so your mileage may vary. If ever in the area the Courthouse square in Windom Minnesota is worth a look at.

  5. Beth Ann Says:

    What a neat courthouse. It is amazing what architecture we can find all around if we take the time.

  6. Jackie Says:

    Such an impressive courthouse, the detailing and architecture is beautiful.

  7. Mike Says:

    Very impressive building. It sort of reminds me of the Grant County Courthouse in Elbow Lake, MN.

  8. Margaret Says:

    The sculpture is a representation of the Wisconsin state flag. Thanks for taking an interest in local architecture.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s