Wisconsin Historical Society

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Architecture and History Inventory
77 W PARK ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Marquette Co. Courthouse, Sheriff's Office and Jail
Other Name:Marquette County Courthouse
Reference Number:17068
Location (Address):77 W PARK ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1916
Survey Date:1981
Historic Use:courthouse
Architectural Style:Beaux Arts
Structural System:
Wall Material:Cream Brick
Architect:Albert Parkinson (Parkinson & Dockendorff)
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Marquette County Courthouse and Marquette County Sheriff's Office and Jail
National Register Listing Date:3/9/1982 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:County Courthouses of Wisconsin Thematic Group
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation.

Dramatically perched on a steep hill overlooking both the City of Montello and Lake Montello, the Marquette County Courthouse is an austere Beaux-Arts structure, rising two stories from a rusticated foundation of Montello granite. Although largely unornamented, the cream brick walls are crowned with an entablature, featuring a projecting cornice of Bedford limestone above an architrave and frieze divided by narrow bands of raised brick. A brick parapet capped with stone coping rests above the cornice. The rectangular building, whose dimensions measure 64' x 36', is anchored at all four corners by massive brick pilasters ornamented with Bedford stone medallions surrounded by egg-and-dart like stone moldings. The same motif is repeated on the pilasters framing the central pavilion, which projects slightly from the main facade. A one-story portico, sheltering the front entry, extends from the central pavilion. Supported by brick piers, pilasters, and two Tuscan columns of polished Montello granite, the portico features a full entablature of Bedford stone surmounted by a cream brick parapet. Recessed beneath the portico, the doorway is surrounded by sidelights and features an unusually large transom. Both the front and the side facades feature symmetrically disposed windows, resting on stone sills. The side portals are surrounded by stone architraves ornamented with keystones. The interior of the courthouse includes terrazo floors, and dark oak trim, and ceilings, which have been lowered. A cream brick addition, built on to the rear of the structure, is recessed from the original facade and thus does not impair the architectural or visual integrity of the courhouse. Situated at the crest of a hill, the building occupies the most commanding site in the city and is approached by two curving stairways which mount the hill on either side of the front entry.

The sheriff's residence, located behind the courthouse, is a domestic structure of cubic proportion with a low-pitched hip roof whose widely extended eaves are reminiscent of the Prairie style. A stone course divides the first and second stories and emphasizes the horizontal quality of the composition. The enclosed front porch of the building has a bracketed roof with parapeted side walls. Ornamental medallions decorate the corners of the porch and a cream brick chimney extends well above the roof ridge.

Architectural Significance:

Impressibly sited on a steep hill on the shores of Lake Motello, overlooking the city of Montello, the Marquette County Courthouse is a modest example of Beaux-Arts design but an imposing visual landmark. A simple illustration of its period of construction, the courthouse is restrained in both material and decoration, and massive pilasters. In addition, the structure employs Montello-granite, a locally qarried building stone highly prized throughout the country in the early 20th century. The building was designed by LaCrosse architect, Albert Parkinson (?-1952) (see Bib. Ref. B), whose firm, Parkinson & Dockendorff, designed numerous civic buildings throughout Wisconsin between 1902 and 1952. The nearby sheriff's residence and jail is a representative example of the modest "builder's cube" of the period, more domestic than institutional, with vague decorative references to the Prairie style. Like the other nominated detached sheriff's residence/jails, it also represents a type of construction.

Historical Significance:

Seeking to replace "dilapidated, unsafe, and inadequate" county buildings, the Marquette County Board decided in May, 1915 to build a new courthouse and jail (including sheriff's residence and office) for $50,000. (See Bib. Ref. C). When completed in October, 1916, the new buildings had exceeded the original estimate by $20,000, and special bonds and tax increases were needed to finance their completion. (See Bib. Ref. A). But the results were generally applauded. The coruthouse was "one of the most imposing structures in the state" with facilities "second to none," the local newspaper reported when they were finished. "We are now in the front ranks" of counties, and the buildings prove that the citizens of Marquette County are "just as willing to spend their money for public imporvements as they were in any other county in the state." (See Bib. Ref. A). In addition to the fine buildings, the county could also boast of the beautiful site, secured from the Montello Granite Co. whose stone was used in the foundation and front entry of the new courthouse. (See Bib. Ref. A).
Bibliographic References:A. Montello Express, October 28, 1916, Vol. 46, No. 1, p. 8. B. Montello Express, December 8, 1916, Vol. 46, No. 7, p. 8. C. Montello Express, June 18, 1915, Vol. 44, No. 36, p. 1. D. "Biography of Bernard Dockendorff, Sr." in Biographical Files, Area Research Center, UW-LaCrosse.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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