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Billings County


Billings County is named for Frederick H Billings, who was a railroad executive.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – McKenzie County

E – Dunn County and Stark County

S – Slope County

W – Golden Valley County


Created:  February 10, 1879                  Map of North Dakota highlighting Billings County

County Seat:

Medora  1886 – present


County Courthouse – Medora


Location:  495 4th Street / Pacific Avenue

Built:  1981 – 1982

Style:  Modern

Architect:  Foss Associates Architects

Contractor:  Western Dakota Construction


Description:  The building faces west and is a two story red colored brick and concrete structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Medora. The building has square lines with several projections and vertical dividers. There are open spaces between the vertical brick and concrete pillars. In the interior is a central atrium extending up to the roof. The County District Court courtroom is located on the second story at the center of the west side. The building houses the County District Court of the Southwest Judicial District.


See:  The architect Foss Associates Architects also designed courthouses in Cavalier CountyMorton County and Ramsey County, and in Minnesota in Becker CountyClay CountyClearwater County and Pennington County.


Old County Courthouse – Medora



Location:  475 4th Street / Pacific Avenue

Built:  1880 – 1881

Style:  Federal

Architect:  Unknown

Contractor:  Unknown


Description:  The building faces west and is a two story dark red colored wood frame structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Medora to the east of the courthouse. The courthouse consisted of two wood houses in 1886 which were joined to form a single building. The west front has a one story enclosed porch. The center section rises two stories with hipped roof. On the north and south are one story wings with the brick addition on the north side. The interior features plaster walls with wainscoting of vertical matched boarding; large decorative metal grilles over floor vents; a straight-flight stair with closed stringer and turned newels and balusters; plain door and window casings; and vault doors set in framings enriched with classical motifs. On the second story, the cove-ceilinged courtroom on the north side retains much of its original character: exposed wooden floors; roll-top desks; carved wooden armchairs around a lawyers’ table; pew-like benches made by John Tester (who designed the 1913 remodeling) to provide public seating; and a judge’s bench paneled in beaded vertical boarding. In 1913, the second story courtroom was built. The architect was John Tester and the contractor was J T Savern. In 1950, a brick addition was added. A second hipped-roof brick wing added to the north elevation in 1953 is the only portion of the courthouse not yet sheathed in red-stained cedar siding, a project which commenced in 1976. The building now houses a museum.


Note:  Auxiliary heat was provided by a particularly ornate cast-iron, coal-burning stove (Hot Blast Buck’s Stove and Range Company, St. Louis, Missouri). In 1917 an electric light plant was installed in the courthouse by Lahr Motor Sales Company, Bismarck, at a cost of $797.50, and new furnaces were acquired in 1926 and 1961.


See:  National Register of Historic Places – Old Billings County Courthouse


See:  The Southwest Judicial District includes Adams County, Bowman County, Dunn CountyGolden Valley CountyHettinger CountySlope County and Stark County.


History:  The county was created in 1879 and Medora was selected as the county seat. The first courthouse in Medora was a two story frame structure, the second floor of which was used as a dance hall. Destroyed by fire at an undetermined date, the building was located about two blocks west of the present courthouse. The second courthouse was built in 1880 to 1881 and is still standing. The cost of the 1913 remodeling was $2,200. The third and present courthouse was constructed in 1981 to 1982.



County Courthouse – Medora

















County District Court courtroom













Old County Courthouse – Medora











Old courtroom









Old jail cell









Photos taken 2009, 2013 and 2022