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Washington County

Washington County is named for George Washington, who was the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797.

 

Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Burt County

E – Harrison County, Iowa and Pottawattamie County, Iowa 

S – Douglas County

W – Dodge County

 

Created:  February 11, 1855                   Map of Nebraska highlighting Washington County

County Seat:

Fort Calhoun  1855 – 1858

DeSoto           1858 – 1866

Fort Calhoun  1866 – 1869

Blair                1869 – present

 

County Courthouse – Blair

 

Location:  1555 Colfax Street / South 16th Street

Built:  1889– 1890

Style:  Renaissance Revival

Architect:  O H Placey of Lincoln

Contractor:  Richards & Company of Omaha

 

Description:  The building faces west and is a three story red colored brick and stone structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds of the courthouse square in the center of Blair. The raised first story basement level is rusticated rough Warrenburg, Missouri sandstone. The upper walls are faced with St. Louis brick. Ribbons of the contrasting stone trim form continuous sills and lintels and run horizontally around the building. The building has four square brick towers on each corner. The first story entrance is framed with stone and has two entrance doors. On the center of the roof is a large cupola. The roof is hipped. In the interior, a long hallway runs north and south and intersects at the center with a small stub of an entry hall from the main entrance on the west. Located in the building are double fireplaces (placed back-to-back to heat two rooms) and vault doors with painted scenes. The County District Court courtroom is located on the east side of the third story and runs the length of a façade with views on the east and west sides while the longer expanse opens onto the stairs on both the north and south ends of the building. The building houses the County District Court of the 6th Judicial District. An addition was added on the south side in 1995. On the east side is the Law Enforcement Center constructed in 1975 and on the north side is a two story County Justice Center constructed in 2018 to 2021.

 

Note:  A unique feature not found on other Nebraska courthouses are the painted metal forms in the gables over the two entrances. Several subjects cornucopia, wheat, pumpkins call attention to the fertile agricultural foundation of the county, while the ship in full sail likely recalls the immigrant experience and the shields symbolize county government. Another highly unusual feature of the building are the stone rosettes at the corners of windows; up to seven patterns (perhaps more) are used.

 

See:  The architect, O H Placey of Lincoln, designed the courthouse in Illinois in Shelby County

 

See:  National Register of Historic Places – Washington County Courthouse

 

County Justice Center – Blair

 

 

Location:  1555 Colfax Street / South 16th Street

Built:  2018– 2021

Style:  Modern

Architect:  Prochaska and Associated of Omaha

Contractor:  The Weitz Construction Company of Des Moines, Iowa

 

Description:  The building faces west and is a two story red colored brick and concrete structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds of the courthouse square in the center of Blair on the north side of the courthouse. The second story is at ground level and has a glass entrance on the west side towards the south. The roof line is flat. The first story is below ground level and has glass windows along the south side. In the interior, a hallway runs east-west along the south with an open atrium rising two stories. The building is connected to the courthouse on the southeast side. The County Court courtroom is located along north side at the center of the first story. The building houses the County Court of the 6th Judicial District. 

 

See:  The 6th Judicial District includes Burt CountyCedar CountyDakota CountyDixon CountyDodge County and Thurston County.

 

History:  The county was created in 1855 and Fort Calhoun was selected as the county seat. The first courthouse was a log structure and a crowd of DeSoto backers mounted a siege on the courthouse in 1858, and one man was killed in the hostilities. The second courthouse in DeSoto was a two story log structure. Fort Calhoun surrendered the county records to the mob after a two-day stand-off, but later regained the county seat designation in 1866 in the appropriate manner, an election. The county seat was moved to Blair in 1869. The county purchased a two story brick schoolhouse at Grant Street and 19th Street as the third courthouse. The fourth and present courthouse was constructed in 1889 to 1890. A one story addition was constructed on the south side in 1995.The County Justice Center was constructed on the north side in 2018 to 2021 at a cost of $24,500,000.

 

 

County Courthouse – Blair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

County District Court courtroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

County Courthouse before 2021 Justice Center – Blair

 

 

 

 

County Courthouse Annex – Blair

 

 

 

 

 

 

County Justice Center – Blair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos taken 2008 and 2023