The county was created in 1855 and Lamar was selected as the county seat. The first courthouse was a two story wood frame structure built in Lamar in 1856. The second courthouse was a brick structure built in 1860 by George E Ward. The courthouse was burned in November 1862 during the Civil War. In 1866, the third courthouse was a two story structure designed by Samuel Cones, A H Gibbs and J C Gaston and built by Charles Van Pelt at a cost of $5,000. The fourth and present courthouse was constructed in 1887 to 1888 at a cost of $32,500.
County officials called for a temporary courthouse to be built on the west side of the square in 1866. Cost was approximately $5,000. The court received the completed building Aug. 9, 1866. An election in 1882 gave voters the option for a new courthouse, but it was not until November 1887 that a proposal passed. The 80-foot by 120-foot building was constructed of pressed brick and Barton County sand stone. Arches for the four entrances were made by the Lamar Iron Works. The architect varied the window grouping and canopy design on adjacent sides of the building. The architectural design originally called for a tower with a four-sided clock and a cupola. The tower and cupola were built, but no clocks were ever installed. Eventually, the tower and cupolas and one of the spiral iron stairs were removed so the building can never be placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. The courthouse fully renovated in 1973. An elevator was installed in 1987, making the building up to be handicapped accessible and ready to serve the people of the community for many years to come. Sitting on the Barton County Courthouse lawn is something else that is not on every courthouse lawn. A Statue of Liberty was placed there and dedicated by the Barton County school children and the community-minded people who underwrote the project on Feb. 28, 1950. It has a height of 16 feet, 10 inches with a plaque which reads: With faith in and loyalty to the United States of America, the school children of Barton County have caused to be erected this replica of the “Statue of Liberty” symbolizing freedom and justice for all. Also, on the courthouse lawn, is a bandstand. The cornerstone says “Band 1913.” The bandstand may not have any significant historical reference, but for anyone who lived here during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, there are lots of memories. Everyone came to town on Saturday night and listened to the band. The stores around the square were open as long as the crowd stayed, which was usually midnight or so and the courthouse was the center of it all.
The building faces east and is a two story St. Louis red colored brick and Barton County stone structure. The building is located on spacious landscaped grounds in the center of Lamar and is 80 by 120 feet. The east front has a small decorative portico on the first story with peaked roof. The center section projects slightly from the main building and rises to a peak. There are large square brick towers with peaked roofs on each corner. The building houses the County Circuit Court.
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