From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
Fifty years ago, 1912, Leavenworth County's courthouse was completely gutted by fire. Only the red brick walls of the old structure remained. Valuable county legal records, in fireproof vaults, were consumed, so hot was the flame.
For several weeks, argument waxed hot as to whether a new building should go up or whether the old walls and foundation should be utilized as a considerable start on a reconstruction job. Advocates led by William P. Feth, well known Leavenworth architect, for using the shell of the burned out building won out.
The county collected $83,000 insurance on the old building. This money, invested while the new building was in the planning and construction stage, earned $2,390 at the higher interest rates of those years.
A new edifice of the size and elegance of Leavenworth's courthouse as of today would cost the taxpayers close to $750,000 as a layman's guess. But hat 1913 courthouse was built with exactly $57,762.54 over and above the insurance and interest money--or a total of $143,152.54.
So proud were the county commissioners of those days that the county board published a commemorative photograph of the new structure with the cost figures on the back. Feth thinks that he has possibly the only one now in existence.
The card carried the names of the commissioners of 1913: John Bollin, chairman; H. C. Short, and S. H. Ward. On the back is a condensed statement of cost of the building, signed by Wm. P. Feth, architect. Along the bottom edge is the statement:
"If you are paying taxes on $1,000 valuation, your share of the cost of this splendid building is only $1.50 and you have three years in which to pay for it. Isn't it worth the price?"