Crawford County Courthouse
220 N. Beaumont Road, Prairie du Chien, Crawford County
Date of Construction: 1867-68
Contractor: Michael Merges
The Crawford County Courthouse is located in Prairie du Chien, an early seat of government for western Wisconsin. Crawford County was one of three territorial counties established in 1818. The current courthouse was built in 1867 after the earlier county structures were deemed so unsafe that officials abandoned them. The two-story Crawford County Courthouse has typical Italianate characteristics, such as a simple, cubic form and a hipped roof, which slants on all four sides. It is constructed with off-white Dolomitic limestone hauled from the nearby town of Bridgeport. Additions to the building date to 1896 and 1931.
Located in the lower level of the building is the basement jail, one of the oldest and best-preserved 19th century jails in Wisconsin. Possibly constructed in 1843, the dungeon-like jail contains five 7 feet by 5 feet by 7 feet cells, one cell that is only three feet wide, and two solitary confinement cells that are barely tall enough to stand in. The jail lets in little outside light and still possesses some of its original leg irons and chains. The basement jail closed in 1896 when another jail building was constructed. Currently, the basement of the courthouse is used for storage.
The Courthouse is open during normal business hours.