Architecture, paintings highlight historic courthouse tour
About 20 people gathered to tour the 96-year-old Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse Wednesday as part of the third annual Brainerd History Week. The Historic Courthouse, located on Laurel Street between Third and Fifth streets in Brainerd, was ...
About 20 people gathered to tour the 96-year-old Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse Wednesday as part of the third annual Brainerd History Week.
The Historic Courthouse, located on Laurel Street between Third and Fifth streets in Brainerd, was the second courthouse built in Crow Wing County. The first was erected in 1883 on the corner of Kingwood and Fourth streets, where it continues to stand today as an apartment building.
According to the Crow Wing County Historical Society, the Historic Courthouse was designed by Alden and Harris of St. Paul, the architectural firm that also designed Brainerd City Hall in 1914. It's built in the Beaux Arts style, a style typical of the early 20th century, using smooth-cut gray stone. Marble floors and walls adorn the interior and a stained-glass skylight decorates the dome above the rotunda.
No longer used for trials, the Historic Courthouse is home to offices of Administrative Services and Crow Wing County Extension. The former courtroom on the third floor is now used for county board meetings. Although its purpose has changed over time, the building maintains the vast majority of its original features. This includes carved door knobs depicting a crow on a branch.
Beyond the architecture, the group viewed original paintings by Brainerd artist Sarah Thorp Heald, displayed on the first floor of the building. Heald was born in 1881 and moved to the Lake Hubert area in 1894, according to literature provided to those taking the tour.
She attended the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., and was also the daughter of artist Freeman Thorp. Ulysses S. Grant once sat for Thorp for a portrait, and he painted other U.S. presidential portraits, including one of Abraham Lincoln displayed in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol.
Heald painted historic scenes of 19th-century Crow Wing County, including explorer Jean N. Nicollet in 1836, visiting a trading post once located at the mouth of the Crow Wing River. Several of her paintings depicted scenes with American Indians, including one in which a group of American Indians are holding a rope across a set of train tracks. The literature explained the painting shows an actual event in 1871 in Deerwood, when a train called the Minnetonka was making its first trip from Cloquet to Brainerd.
Heald was also a writer, a poet and served as the curator of the Crow Wing County Historical Museum for 15 years. She lived in the Brainerd lakes area until her death in 1954.
The tour was led by Mary Koep, one of the chairs of the Brainerd History Week committee. Koep said she stepped in when the original tour guide was unable to attend.
The courthouse is open to the public 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .