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Ouray County Courthouse

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1888, Frank E. Edbrooke. 541 4th St. (southeast corner of 6th Ave.)
  • (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

Francis Carney constructed this courthouse designed by Colorado's foremost nineteenth-century architect. The brick walls and cut stone trim, noted Ouray's Solid Muldoon (August 10, 1888), “are all home productions with the exception of the finishing lumber, which comes from Chicago.” Fine brick walls flare into a corbeled cornice. A third-story tower above the pediment of the entry portico is the main attraction. Its large, square belfry has triple round-arched openings beneath a bell-shaped roof topped by a ball finial.

The courthouse was dedicated in April 1889, according to the Solid Muldoon, “in strict accord with western custom,” with the help of “a keg of hand-made inspiration, several cases of Milwaukee enthusiasm and divers and various brands of pure Havanas.” Initially, both city and county officials used the building, which housed the county court, city council, and fire wagons. Behind the courthouse the old jail remains, in a stout granite and brick two-story building. Inside this unusual courthouse are many original fixtures, from golden oak wain-scoting and trim to a famous jury box equipped with rocking chairs. Courtroom spectators sit in some 150 cast iron chairs. Small towns needed such extensive seating, as trials not only provided free dramatic entertainment but also allowed townsfolk to window shop for lawyers.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel


What's Nearby


Thomas J. Noel, "Ouray County Courthouse", [Ouray, Colorado], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Colorado, Thomas J. Noel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, 573-573.

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