GRANT COUNTY COURTHOUSE
HISTORICAL INVESTIGATION, DOCUMENTATION, AND CONSULTING
ELBOW LAKE, MINNESOTA
Grant County Courthouse was completed in 1906. According to Architect Victor C. Gilbertson, its style is “Neoclassical, it shows Beaux Arts arrangements and in some of its boldness, a strong ﬂavor of Baroque.” It was built of Portwing brown sandstone and has a majestic tower. This building was placed in 1985 on the National Registar of Historic Places in the United States.
The interiors of the Grant County Courthouse were decorated in 1906 by E. A. Soderberg from the decorating ﬁrm Odin J. Oyen of La Crosse, Wisconsin. The decoration consists of ﬁgurative murals (on plaster and on canvas), medallions, gilded monograms, stenciled decoration on plaster, and gilded & painted plasterwork.
On September 13, 1906, Grant County Herald, the Elbow Lake newspaper, published a special edition article, dedicated to the newly built Courthouse. It succinctly describes the interior of the building: “The interior of the building is a perfect dream, baﬄing description, and must be seen to be appreciated. The walls and ceilings are harmonious and beautiful in extreme, with artistic borders of many colors andconsiderable gold. …..The decorations and coloring of walls in various rooms are diﬀerent. Water color stains were used for this purpose, except on the walls of the corridors and court room, where oil paints were used”.
The most important spaces of the building are:
- The Courtroom. On its ceiling is a large ﬁgurative mural (approx. 18 feet by 25 feet) named “Justice and Power of the Law”. It was painted directly on plaster; the medium used was calcimine, a water-base paint containing zinc oxide, glue, and coloring agents.
- The Dome above the central space of the courthouse. It contains four large murals (panels) and four smaller panels with the coats of arms of the U.S. and Minnesota. They were painted directly on smooth plaster; the medium was tempera.
- The Commissioners Room. This room contains, on two opposite walls, four large ﬁgurative murals of Native Americans and European immigrants; they wereexecuted on linen canvas in the artist’s studio, and then mounted on walls.
The written and pictorial report submitted by RARA to the Owner (Grand County) included: investigation, documentation, and recommendations for restoration and preservation.