History of the Lincoln County Courthouse
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - In 1870, the first Lincoln County Courthouse was built and viewed as a centric location for county government operations and facilities. When the construction began on the new courthouse in 1922, the county treasurer at that time, Sam Souder, was embezzling money and worried about being caught.
Souder attempted to burn the original courthouse down to cover his financial fraud. Unfortunately, Souder was unsuccessful, and the records he intended to destroy remained unscathed. However, other parts of the original courthouse perished and ruined the building.
Courthouse employees continued working inside the scorched building as they continued the new courthouse construction. Between the money embezzled by Souder and the finances needed to continue building the new courthouse, the building funds ran out quickly. County officials asked the residents of Lincoln County to provide more funds, and the residents refused. Because of this, it took ten years to complete the new courthouse.
“If you look at the original plans for the courthouse, it was more than a building for county operations. They were building a place with the people of Lincoln County in mind,” said Jim Griffin, Curator Director of the Lincoln County Historical Museum. “They built bathrooms that were large enough for visitors coming from the country to clean up.”
Historians believe the architects and county officials viewed the Lincoln County Courthouse as more of a community center for government needs and use for North Platte facilities.
“Government buildings that are typically mundane and built for the one purpose,” said Griffin. “But they were thinking of the community, in general, when they were planning it.”
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