The Reno County Courthouse building construction was started in 1929 and finished in 1930. This was in the period of economic collapse for the United States. Amazingly, the building was erected at a cost of $386,500 for the initial design and cost of construction. Furnishings were added to be able to occupy the premises at a cost of $126,600. This made a total cost originally of approximately $513,000.
One of the pleasing views of the whole courthouse building takes in the front and emphasis should be given to the copper bearing, steel lead light fixtures that flank the doorway. The steps leading to the doorway are of limestone.
The northern elevator retains the original floor dial, is hand operated with interior walls of stainless steel and a rolling prisoner gate in the rear that was used to transport prisoners to the jail which was housed on the fifth floor until a new law enforcement facility was built in 1971. At that time, the fifth floor was then altered to accommodate expansion of the Public Works Department and other Departments.
The pyramid design is found all over the building and is obvious from the first floor area as you observe the following:
There were no rooms finished on the fourth floor when construction was completed in 1930. This floor was left for expansion. All that made up the fourth floor at that time was the area just in front of the elevators. The Juvenile Court, (Division IV Courtroom), offices, law library and small jury room for the east courtroom of the third floor are all housed now on the fourth floor. The District Attorney handling juvenile cases maintains an office on the fourth floor.
THIRD FLOOR COURTROOM
An artist from New York, Vincent Aderente, painted the murals in the hall and in the courtroom. The paintings in the hall are symbolical of the settlement of the plains by the American Indians and the white pioneers. A wagon train traveling across the Great Plains is further evidence of this era.
The courtroom mural overlooks the judge’s bench. This mural depicts a judgement scene with a sitting female Justice, flanked by a female Mercy and a female Execution. A mere mortal awaiting judgement stands on the other sides of Mercy and execution.
Another interesting original in the courtroom are the tapestries on the walls. The eastern window coverings were of this same design and material but have deteriorated to the point of having to be replaced.
If you notice the electrical outlets on the beams, these were the places for the first air conditioners’ in the courtroom--small, electrical fans placed on shelves for air movement. There are also vents that were used for heating originally and then the conversion to air conditioning.
The speaker system was not installed until in the 1960's.
The bar at the front of the courtroom contains a metal gate that has the State Seal of Kansas on it. Only a lawyer who has passed the bar is eligible to pass through the gates. Exceptions can be the jury, bailiff, court reporter, witnesses.