Washington County Historic Courthouse’s ‘Nooks and Crannies Tour’ is Oct. 4

A view from the top of the Historic Courthouse

The Washington County Historic Courthouse’s annual “Nooks and Crannies Tour” is upon us.

Staff and volunteers will lead tours of areas in the Historic Courthouse that are typically closed to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 4.

The tour will include the sheriff’s residence, basement, archives, the original 1870 jail and the dome on top of the building. Groups of 10 will leave the main hallway at approximately 15-minute intervals and the tours take about an hour.

Here’s a little history about the courthouse, courtesy of Washington County:

When the building was completed in 1870, a sheriff’s residence was part of the structure. Sheriffs and their families lived onsite from 1870 until 1962. Visitors will have a chance to see where the sheriff lived and learn about the sheriff’s wife and her many duties. The sheriff’s residence is now rented for private office space and is generally unavailable for tours.

Before the county moved to the current Government Center, several offices were housed in the dark, dank, limestone, barrel-vaulted basement as the county had outgrown this site. Visitors will walk through the basement and see the old cistern, the makeshift office space, and several vaults that have been removed from the building, along with furniture, architectural pieces, and other items of interest.

While the jail addition (1900-1975) is regularly open for tours, the upper portion of the original jail (1870-1900) is now used as an archival storage area. See the small jail cells where prisoners were held and the archival materials stored there.

The dome is reached by a steep, narrow staircase and offers views of Stillwater, the St. Croix River and valley. With the fall colors appearing, this will be an opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the area.

Participants on the tours must be ambulatory and able to bend, climb, and negotiate uneven floors, as well as tolerate small spaces. All minors must be accompanied by an adult. Due to the nature of the tour, not all areas are handicapped accessible.

There is a suggested donation of $5 for adults. Light refreshments will be served in the second floor courtroom.

For more information, call 651-275-7075, see www.co.washington.mn.us/hc  or email historiccourthouse@co.washington.mn.us.

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