Pierce County Courthouse (North Dakota)

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Pierce County Courthouse
Pierce County Courthouse ND 2008.jpg
Pierce County Courthouse in 2008
Pierce County Courthouse (North Dakota) is located in North Dakota
Pierce County Courthouse (North Dakota)
Location 240 2nd St SE, Rugby, North Dakota
Coordinates 48°22′6″N 99°59′26″W / 48.36833°N 99.99056°W / 48.36833; -99.99056Coordinates: 48°22′6″N 99°59′26″W / 48.36833°N 99.99056°W / 48.36833; -99.99056
Built 1908
Architect Buechner & Orth
Architectural style Beaux Arts
Governing body Local
MPS Buechner and Orth Courthouses in North Dakota TR
NRHP Reference # 80002924[1]
Added to NRHP November 25, 1980

The Pierce County Courthouse in Rugby, North Dakota was built in 1908. It was designed by St. Paul, Minnesota architects Buechner & Orth in Beaux Arts or Modified Renaissance style.[1][2] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 as part of a multiple property submission for Buechner and Orth Courthouses in North Dakota.[1]

The front facade of the building is constructed of brown Hebron pressed brick with Beford stone trim and features paired stone columns.[2] The building includes a central tower with columns and arched windows topped by a silver-colored dome. The dome has a diameter of 28 feet and extends to a height of 100 feet from the grade line.[2] A newspaper article in 1910 noted: "The dome is one of the show features of the court house and has no equal at the present time in the state."[2] The interior features four murals depicting historic scenes from Pierce County.[2]

A shield above the main entrance displays the Latin words "PAX" and "LEX."[2] The interior rotunda and main entry hall feature purple (or dark red) marble wainscoting and pink marble pilasters.[3] The building included a meeting room for the county commissioners and offices for the county auditor, treasurer, and register of deeds. The courtroom on the second floor has an ornamental beamed ceiling.[2]

The historic site includes a two-story structure originally used as the sheriff's residence and jail located to the southeast of the courthouse.[3][4]

In 1911, shortly after the courthouse opened, district judge John Cowan was impeached and charged with drunken behavior, disorderly conduct, and assault. One of the incidents involved an allegation that he tried "to forcibly kiss a woman in the Pierce County courthouse at Rugby."[5] Cowan was acquitted of the charges in a trial before the North Dakota Senate.[5]

The courthouse c. 1913


  1. ^ a b c "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Historic Pierce County Courthouse". City of Rugby, North Dakota. 
  3. ^ a b Kurt P. Schweigert (August 1, 1980). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Pierce County Courthouse".  (section 7 pages 5-6 in Buechner and Orth Courthouses in ND TR) and accompanying photos(purple wainscotin describeda page 4 of photos document)
  4. ^ Kurt P. Schweigert (August 1, 1980). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Buechner and Orth Courthouses in North Dakota Thematic Resources". 
  5. ^ a b "Summaries of Impeachment Trials in N. D. Senate". Grand Forks Herald. December 21, 1998.