Listen to the podcast of this article at The Laclede County Courthouse
The Laclede County Courthouse in Lebanon, Missouri has gone through many changes over the years.
Laclede County was organized on February 24, 1849, and was named after Pierre Laclède, founder of St. Louis. The first courthouse was built by A S Cherry under the supervision of John J Thrailkill in 1850 to 1851. That courthouse burned at the start of the Civil War. The courthouse was rebuilt toward the close of the Civil War, but was only used for a few years before it burned again. For many years there was no courthouse in Laclede County and buildings in the city were used for court offices. After the downtown area of Lebanon was changed because of the railroad, a third courthouse was designed by William F Schrage in 1894 at a cost of $20,000. The building burned on February 28, 1920. A fourth courthouse was then built. In the 1990s, the courthouse was completely renovated. The current building was dedicated in 1997.
“The railroad came to Lebanon in 1868 and was about 1 mile from the Courthouse and a new business district developed. In the 1870’s the Court wanted to move the County seat, but this led to a disruptive controversy. The Court moved all the records to the New Town Lebanon and sold the Old Courthouse for $50. After the move there wasn’t a Courthouse for over 20 years. The opponents against moving the Courthouse claimed that the location was not legally part of the County Seat, but they moved it anyway! The new Courthouse wasn’t built in New Town Lebanon until the 1890’s and in 1894 the new Courthouse was done. On June 23, 1894 Cornerstone Ceremonies took place at the new Courthouse. The first floor had 16 rooms and the courtroom, Jury, witness and consulting rooms were on the second floor. But on February 28, 1920 the Laclede County Courthouse burnt! Another Courthouse was built and completed in 1924!”
An article in the Laclede County Republican from March of 1920 details the history of the courthouse up until the time of the 1920 fire.
I remember the courthouse as it stood in the late 80s and early 90s. My mother worked for the University of Missouri Extension in Laclede County, and throughout the 90s, their offices were housed in the courthouse. I still remember the smell and all the stairs. When the courthouse was closed to be rebuilt, the Extension Center offices moved to the little brick building behind the courthouse, and they have since moved again, across the street and next to the Office of Emergency Management.