Marinette County WIGenWeb - Centennial History II - Courthouse

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The First Courthouse

The original Courthouse, completed in 1881

In February 1851, Oconto County separated from Brown County, and held the distinction of being the largest county in Wisconsin until it was divided to half its original size by act of the Wisconsin Legislature, March 3, 1879, when Marinette County was formed.

The first Marinette County Board of Supervisors met on March 11, 1879 in the office of J.A. Van Cleve, a lumberman and surveyor, who was to be Marinette County's first County Clerk. This meeting was attended by Andrew C. Merryman, representing the Township of Marinette as Chairman, and Mr. William J. Shepherd, representing the Township of Peshtigo.

Because of the diverse locations of the various county officers (see First Board of Supervisors Meeting), the Board voted, on July 15, 1879, that "the proposition of the Honorable I. Stephenson to donate to the County of Marinette the tract of land west of the N. Ludington Company Store for a Court House site be accepted, and that the thanks of this Board be tended to him for his liberality, and record of the same be entered in the Journal of Proceedings."

The old Jail and Sheriff's Home

The County Clerk was authorized to engage George Clark, an engineer from London, England, who had come to America in 1871 as a civil engineer with the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1874, he settled in what was to become Marinette County. Clark's illustrious career included building programs in Calcutta, Hong Kong, and Brazil. He was instructed "to make plans and specifications of a Jail and Court House not to exceed in value $15,000 when complete."

On Monday, July 28, 1879, Mr. Clark submitted his first plans for the jail and courthouse; on Thursday, August 7, 1879, he submitted revised plans, and these were accepted by the Board of Supervisors. The bid of Charles Patude for building the basement of these two structures was approved on Saturday, August 16, 1879, and on Wednesday, September 24, the proposal of Calix Merchant to furnish materials and erect the super structure at a cost of $9,400 was accepted.

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2001 Deana C. Hipke