Get behind-the-scenes looks at areas of the Washington County Historic Courthouse normally off-limits to visitors when volunteers leading tours of the old courthouse from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 7.
The tour includes the sheriff’s residence, basement, archives and the dome on the top of the building.
When the building was completed in 1870, a sheriff’s residence was part of the structure. Sheriffs and their families lived onsite from 1870 until 1962. Visitors get a chance to see where the sheriff lived and learn about the sheriff’s wife and her many duties. The sheriff’s residence is now rented for private office space and generally unavailable for tours.
Before the county moved its administrative offices to the new Government Center, several offices were housed in the dark, dank, limestone, barrel-vaulted basement as the county outgrew this site. Visitors can walk through the basement and see the old cistern, office space and several vaults that have been removed from the building.
While the jail addition (1900-1975) is regularly open for tours, the upper portion of the original jail (1870-1900) is now used as an archival storage area. Visitors can see the small jail cells where prisoners were held and the archival collections of the courthouse.
The dome is reached by a steep, narrow staircase and offers fabulous views of Stillwater, the St. Croix River and St. Croix Valley. With the fall colors appearing, this will be a wonderful opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the area.
Participants in the tours must be ambulatory, able to bend and climb and to tolerate close spaces. Due to the nature of the tour, it is not handicap accessible. There is a suggested donation of $3 for adults and $1 for children.
The courthouse is at 101 W. Pine St. in Stillwater.
For more information, call 651-275-7075, see www.co.washington.mn.us/hc or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo courtesy of Washington County
A view from the dome of the Washington County Historic Courthouse will be part of the “Nooks and Crannies Tour” Oct. 7 at the building in Stillwater.