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Grand Traverse County

Grand Traverse County is named for the French phrase “grande traverse” meaning “long crossing”.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Leelanau County and Antrim County

E – Kalkaska County

S – Wexford County

 Benzie County


Created:  April 7, 1851                           Map of Michigan highlighting Grand Traverse County

County Seat:

Traverse City  1851 – present


County Courthouse – Traverse City  


Location:  328 Washington Street / Broadman Street

Built:  1898 – 1900

Style:  Romanesque Revival

Architect:  Rush, Bowman and Rush of Grand Rapids and Casscus M Pratt

Contractor:  J E Gibson of Logansport, Indiana


Description:  The building faces north and is a four story red colored sandstone and concrete  structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds on a low hill in the center of Traverse City. The building has a large arch on the first story with recessed door. On the center of the roof rises a high square red colored brick clock tower. In the interior, the hallways have terrazzo floors. The District Court courtroom is located on the first story and the Circuit Court courtroom is located on the second story. The building houses the County Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial District, County District Court and County Probate Court. Thomas Moulton was the superintendent during construction.  A fire in the 1930s damaged part of the interior. The building was renovated. The architect was Architects International of Chicago and the contractor was Tezak Company of Traverse City.


Note:  Empire Stites of Kalkaska had been the lowest bidder, but he did not appear with the bond required by the bidding notice and therefore the second lowest bid, Mr. Gibson, with appropriate bond in hand, was accepted.  The total indicated by Gibson for construction was $28,749 which would allow the balance of the funds to be utilized for subsequent landscaping – a very pleasant surprise for the Supervisors and the general populace. A new committee in charge of construction installed Casscus M Pratt as the new architect after a dispute with Rush, Bowman and Rush as to costs.


County Hall of Justice – Traverse City  


Location:  280 Washington Street / Broadman Street

Built:  Unknown

Style:  Modern / Gothic Church

Architect:  Unknown

Contractor:  Unknown


Description:  The building faces north and is a four story colored glass, stone and concrete structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Traverse City on the west side of the courthouse. On the east side is the former Congregational Church built in 1916 and on the west side is the former Presbyterian Church. In the center is the modern four story glass and stone structure. The building houses the County Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial District, County District Court and County Probate Court. The building is named as the Robert P Griffin Hall of Justice.


Note:  The County Hall of Justice also houses the District Court for Antrim County    and Leelanau County.


County City Governmental Center – Traverse City  



Location:  400 Boardman Avenue / Webster Street

Built:  1978 – 1979

Style:  Modern

Architect:  Cornwell-Callahan-Holt, Inc.

Contractor:  Jeffress-Dyer, Inc.


Description:  The building faces east and is a three story concrete and glass structure. The east front has a central entrance. The second story has vertical dividers at the windows. The third story has horizontal windows. The roof line is flat. The building is named as the Governmental Center and houses the City of Traverse City and Grand Traverse offices. The building is located on the south side of the courthouse.


See:  The 13th Judicial District includes Antrim County and Leelanau County.


History:  The county was created in 1851 and Traverse City was selected as the county seat in 1853 when the county was organized. The county first met at the Peninsula store of Cowles and Campbell in 1853. A further meeting was held at the store of Hannah, Lay & Company in Traverse City and the buildings owned by the company were offered to the county but the county in 1854 saw to the building of a wooden structure as the first courthouse at a cost of $600 along with a jail and county office.  The buildings burned in 1862 and the county used rented premises.  The D C Leach building housed the court on the corner of Front Street and Park Street as the second courthouse. In 1884, a brick jail was built at a cost of $20,000 and the county moved into the building as the third courthouse. As well, the county contracted with the Patrons of Husbandry to build and rent a court facility on Cass Street. The fourth and present courthouse was constructed in 1898 to 1900 at a cost of $35,665. The building was renovated at a cost of $1,500,000.


See:  Michigan’s County Courthouses by John Fedynsky













County City Government Center – Traverse City



Photos taken 2008