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Washington County Courthouse

Built: 1889-1891
Located: 16th St. between Colfax and South Streets Block 75, Original Town Plat
Noted architectural specimen as a government building.
This Property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  • 1855 Fort Calhoun designated as as the county-seat
  • 1858 Mop took county seat to DeSoto
  • 1866 County Seat returned to Fort Calhoun
  • 1869 County Seat moved to Blair
  • 1889 Courthouse started
  • 1891 Courthouse Completed

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Washington County was among the earliest formed in Nebraska, having been established in 1854. Desoto and Fort Calhoun were the first county seats but in 1869 it was assigned to Blair. A 40×40-foot square brick building that had been designed as a school was first used. Twenty years later, amidst controversy over the need for a new courthouse the vote was 126 to 874 in favor of floating a $35,000 bond issue for the new construction.

Work began in 1889 under the direction of architect O.H. Placey and a Romanesque Revival-style design was selected. The builder was Richards and Company. They constructed the footings and foundations of limestone and the walls were laid up of St. Louis pressed brick with trim of Warrensburg Stone. There was considerable controversy during the construction. Some of the work was rejected and replaced and the architect resigned. Finally in 1891 the work was completed.

Numerous face lifts and improvements were made to the building beginning in 1936 with a $10,000 renovation by the WPA. The Treasurer’s office, the court room and the 3rd floor all have been remodeled. In 1995 a new addition and a complete renovation of the old building was dedicated.

 Note of Interest

Other Courthouses built by O.H. Placey include:
York County Courthouse, in York, Nebraska – Built 1886-1888 – demolished in 1978
• Adams County Courthouse, in Quincy, Illinois – Built 1876 – destroyed by a tornado 1945 (source)

Romanesque Revival Architecture
IDENTIFYING FEATURES: Round arches over windows and/or entryways; thick, cavernous entryways and window openings; thick masonry walls, rounded towers with conical roof; facades are asymmetrical; variable stone and brick façade. On elaborate examples, polychromatic facades with contrasting building materials.

Blair Historic Preservation Alliance | P.O. Box 94 | Blair, Nebraska 68008 | contact@blairhistory.com