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St. Louis County Courthouse
St. Louis County is the largest county in total area in Minnesota and the largest county in the United States east of the Mississippi River. Because of its size, it is divided into three judicial districts: Duluth is the county seat and location of the primary courthouse, with other county courthouse buildings located in Virginia and Hibbing, northwest of Duluth on the Mesabi Iron Range. The St. Louis County Courthouse at Hibbing, built in 1954–1955, is one of the earliest examples of mid-century modernist design found on northern Minnesota’s Iron Range.
The Courthouse was designed by Eino A. Jyring, a modernist architect who incorporated qualities of his Finnish ancestry and Finnish-American folk culture into his work. The structure consists of three clearly defined sections: a two-story wing with the courtrooms faced with Indiana limestone, an office section with glass curtain walls, and a long connecting hall at the center. The simple but formal two-story piers along the south side of the courtroom wing add a monumental yet restrained classicism to the building’s overall design. The long hallway connecting the two wings of the building takes advantage of natural light transmitted through domes spaced along its length. The building sits on a spacious site at a primary entrance into the community.
At the time of its completion, the Hibbing Courthouse was recognized by a jury of prominent architects as the most outstanding small courthouse in the country. Architectural historian and critic Larry Millett has also described it as one of Minnesota’s most significant mid-century government buildings.
Alanen, Arnold R. A Field Guide to the Architecture and Landscapes of Northeastern Minnesota.Madison: University of Wisconsin, 2000.
Lathrop, Alan K. Minnesota Architects: A Biographical Dictionary.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
Millett, Larry. Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.
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