TREGO COUNTY COURTHOUSE
WAKEENEY, KANSAS 1889 - 1989
On July 12, 1887 an election to vote bonds for the construction of a courthouse were held with the results being as follows:
On October 21, 1887, contract was awarded to George Barrett to build the courthouse from Trego County hard stone for the sum of $26,994.00.
- For Courthouse 378 Against courthouse 359 (19)
- For Jail 424 Against Jail 298 (126)
- Architectual Design: American Queen Anne with Elizabethian Frontage
- Architect:: George R. Ropes, Topeka, Kansas
- Dimensions: 105 feet long by 88 feet wide the highest cupola reached 100 feet into the air
- Basement First Floor - six offices second Floor - Courtroom and offices and jury room
- Construction: Trego County Hard Stone and Manhattan Stone Commissioners:
- When courthouse was voted on: W. F. King, J. M. Welch, R. G. Kessler
- During construction: C. C. Ridgway, J. M. Welch, R. G. Kessler
- When completed: C. C. Ridgway, S. C. Peacock, R. G. Kessler
On June 2, 1888, ceremonies began at 2:00 p.m. for the laying of the cornerstone with the Free Masons in charge of the festivities.
- Contractors: George Barrett and George Pinkham (Barrett & Pinkham)
- Construction Superintendent: J. W. Burns - Collyer Township
The original contract was for Trego County hard stone but by March 1888, the stone layers could no longer find enough hard stone so it was finished with Manhattan Stone.
The original roof was tin from information found in the Western Kansas World and it was shipped from Europe. In 1905 a heating plant was installed, it was coal fired and was replaced with a gas fired boiler in 1956, which had to be replaced again in 1988. Central air-conditioning was installed in the building in 1964 at the cost of $4,955.00.
In 1910, the courthouse was wired for electric lights and sanitary plumbing was installed.
In 1930 they put in the metal ceilings on the first floor offices and new oak floors were laid.
In 1915 the courtroom had a steel ceiling installed.
In December of 1950 a bid for alteration and addition to the courthouse designed by Wilson & Co., as architect, was awarded to Val Borden Construction Co. of Salina for $30,300.00 and to Dome Electric of Dodge City for the electrical contract for $7,071.00. Construction started in late July or early August of 1951 and was completed in February of 1952. This is when the roof was taken off and was made a "modern looking" building. The roof was needing repairs and this was the way of repair that was chosen.
In December of 1966 the courtroom was remodeled and made smaller bringing the east wall in closer and facing it to the north instead of the east. The west wall had been brought in earlier but I am not sure when. I believe it was after 1931, possibly in the early 40's.
In 1967 the exterior was sandblasted and sealed. This work was done by Masonary Restoration of Nebraska for $7,940.00.
In 1971 the restrooms were paneled and ceilings lowered. This covered the cracked plaster walls and closed the area under the stairs in the ladies restroom. The Sheriff had new quarters added onto the South side of the courthouse in the late summer of 1971 by Beer Construction at the cost of $6,000.00. This gave them more office space.
In June of 1974 several scenes of "Paper Moon" were taken in WaKeeney at the Staatz Hotel and in the office of County Treasurer in the Courthouse.
In 1976 the legislature created the Unified Court System. The offices of Probate Judge were to become the magistrate Judge in January and the Clerk of Court was unified with them, so they felt the offices needed to be together, therefore, the office of the Clerk of District Court moved to what had been the office of Register of Deeds. The Register of Deeds moved to the office of the Probate Judge and the Probate Judge moved to office of the Clerk of District Court.
Also in 1976 the jail was condemned and prisioners had to be taken to Ellis or Gove County. On October 18, 1977, the voters decided to vote to build a new Law Enforcement Center. Work was started in March, 1979 and the building was completed in April of 1980 with open house on 17, 1980. The amount of bonds voted were $475,000.00.
In 1982 the commissioners held a meeting for the public to discuss possibility of restoring the building to its original appearance, adding an elevator and refurnishing the offices. The estimated cost was 797,000.00. The public felt this was to much money so the matter was dropped.
In 1988 the commissioners accepted the federal grant to place an elevator in the courthouse. The amount of the grant was $110,000.00 and matched with $35,000.00. The elevator and removal of handicapped barriers project was completed in December of 1988 with construction by Deines Construction of WaKeeney, as per plans and specifications drawn by Pierceshippers Murray Association of Hays, Architect.
Many offices have come and gone from the courthouse in its 100 years. Land office was located in the basement under the Treasurer's Office 1893 until it was consolidated to the Land Office in Colby in February 1905. The Public Library was located in the courthouse from 1906 1 they moved into the newly completed Municipal Building in 1939. office of County Surveyor later became the office of County Engineer was located on the first floor in the southwest office until January 1946 when they moved to the basement on the north side. They had two rooms there which gave them more room. In 1965 they moved to the building south main street vacated by the Western Cooperative Electric. Other offices in the courthouse have been County Attorney, Welfare, W.P.A., Bindweed, County Poor Commission, the Internal Revenue, F.H.A., P.M.A., Bureau, Soil Conservation, A.S.C., Superintendent of Public Instruction a Sewing Room.
Gayle M. Garrett ....WaKeeney, KS