The old courthouse after the second addition was added.

The old courthouse after the second addition was added.

205 W. Central

Butler County’s first courthouse was a log cabin located south of town across the Walnut River.  In 1870, Henry and C. C. Martin deeded the present location of the courthouse to the county for $1.  The county erected a stone structure the following year on the northeast corner of the present courthouse block.  The building was a two-story limestone structure with 12 windows at the front and an arched doorway in the center, opening to the sidewalk.

Shortly after construction of the new courthouse building, a major uprising between the city El Dorado and the city of Augusta took place. Augusta had set its sights on becoming the county seat by taking it away from El Dorado.  The uprising escalated into a heated political battle, which included rumors of ballot box stuffing and a lock out of the existing courthouse by the Augusta Sheriff.  Eventually, El Dorado managed to retain its title as the county seat after both towns voting and El Dorado winning the vote 524 to 256.

The original Murdock Memorial Fountain and canon.

The original Murdock Memorial Fountain and canon.

The courthouse was enlarged twice in the late 1800’s to accommodate the growing needs of the county.  In 1875, a wing was added and a jail.  In 1895, another wing was added.

In May 1907, residents petitioned for a new courthouse and the County Commissioners approved the local appeal.  George P. Washburn & Sons of Ottawa designed the building.  Work began in 1908 and the corner stone was laid on December 3.  Construction on the courthouse was completed in 1909. The major source of funding came from the Kafir Corn Carnival which was an annual event held in El Dorado, Kansas. The Kafir Corn Carnival was so successful that it often drew in excess of 20,000 people to the downtown area of El Dorado. A box containing copies of the city newspapers, names of county commissioners, architects, builders and superintendent was placed in the cornerstone.

After the new courthouse was constructed, the old courthouse was torn down, Robert Hazlett bought the limestone blocks and used them in the construction of his garage at 115 South Washington.

The old courthouse being demo’d after the construction of the new courthouse was completed.

The old courthouse being demo’d after the construction of the new courthouse was completed.

The 1875 and 1895 dated corner stones are still visible on the south wall of the garage.

Originally, the Murdock Memorial Fountain and a canon stood on the northeast corner of the courthouse lawn. The fountain was later removed so a new flagpole could be erected on the site.

It was dedicated in 1953 to all men who served in American wars. On June 14, 1950, a replica of the Statue of Liberty was dedicated on the northwest corner of the Courthouse lawn by the local boy scouts.  Later, in 1988, it was replaced by a similar statue due to deterioration of the original.  On June 14, 2004, the original statue was rededicated after an extensive restoration.

The Butler County Courthouse building still stands as one of the most attractive and handsome courthouses in Kansas.  The three-story building is built of brick and limestone with a red tile roof.  The Seth Thomas Company made the clock, and the statue atop the portico represents the Goddess of Justice.  It is listed on the National Register of Historical Places as of April 26, 2002.

 

The Butler County Courthouse building as it stands today.

The Butler County Courthouse building as it stands today.