Wells County was created in 1873 by the territorial legislature and originally named Gingras County after Antoine Blanc Gingras, a wealthy Métis trader who resided in the Pembina district. In 1881 the county was renamed Wells in honor of Edward P. Wells, a banker, railroad builder, and territorial legislator from Jamestown. The courthouse is two stories high, with a full attic and battered fieldstone basement. Quarried stone was recommended for the building, but a more economical brick and frame construction was substituted. The framing lumber was obtained from W. E. Cooke, a dealer in nearby Harvey, and the brick was manufactured by the H. T. Von Wagoner Company in Minot. The brick exterior walls are defined by a water table, stringcourse, and semicircular stair turret. Decorative brick treatments, corbeled parapet gables, and dominating brick chimneys characterize this mildly Queen Anne design. The first floor has offices opening off a T-shaped hallway and the courtroom, and offices for the state’s attorney and the county superintendent of public schools are on the second floor. The jail and sheriff’s living quarters in the basement are finished with decorative stamped-metal interiors, even in the cellblocks.
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Wells County Courthouse
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