In honor of the completion and occupation of the Platte County Courthouse in February/March 1918, the Platte County Historical Society will hold a special birthday celebration at the courthouse during the society’s regular meeting next Tuesday at 7 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.
Platte County and Goshen County were created in 1911 when the Wyoming Legislature split Laramie County into three separate counties.
Not everyone wanted the split and not all were happy.
“Ye Gods,” the Hartville Uplift newspaper stated, “should we now be expected to support three county governments? Wheatland is only going for this because they are crazy to be the county seat. We are going to fight county division to a standstill. Our rights must be respected or this paper is going to make a big noise.”
And even after the split was officially a done deal, Hartville editor Williams insisted that the only possible choice for a county seat had to be Guernsey. After all, he wrote, “Wind not being the only qualification necessary to a first class county seat town, Wheatland is out of the running.”
After the legislative vote to create Platte County, the issue was submitted to voters in 1912. It passed handily in Wheatland, but didn’t fare so well in the northern Platte communities. Enough passing votes made it possible, however, to officially organize the county on Jan. 7, 1913.
Even then, it took until 1917 for economics to allow a serious effort to begin on a county courthouse. Several locations were considered, including one on South Street, one near the present golf course, one near the present site of Wheatco on Ninth Street and finally the present location on a full city block donated by Judge Joseph Carey.
Archie Allison and various crews worked for months and by Jan. 25, 1918, Sheriff Roach was able to move into the new residential quarters in the basement, designed to do away with the necessity of hiring a full-time guard to be on duty throughout the night. All prisoners were then moved to the new steel cells. Through the years, many sheriffs and their families have lived in these basement quarters close to the jail cells, and often the sheriff’s wife provided meals for the prisoners.
Throughout February 1918, Mr. Allison and his workers put the final touches on the building, including finishing the cement floors in the basement, completing the installation of electricity throughout the building, and setting up the office furniture, all of which arrived on schedule except the doors for the safe.
Exactly 100 years ago this week, bids were let for 992 yards of fill and grading, and all the offices were ready for occupation.
The Weston County Courthouse in Newcastle and the Platte County Courthouse are the only two in the state that have never been drastically changed and remodeled, and still retain their original footprints.
The PCHS guided tour of all the nooks and crannies of the courthouse will begin at 7 p.m. March 27. People with unique memories of the place are especially invited to share their stories. When the tour is completed, the group will head for the courtroom where birthday cake and coffee will be served in honor of the most important building in the county.