Constructed in 1977-78.
(dedicated October 7, 1978)
Fritzel, Kroeger, Griffin
& Berg of Sioux Falls, SD.
The Union County Courthouse is a one-story rectangular building of
deeply scored pre-cast concrete panels constructed in a modern style.
The front facade has a central core with an entryway, and large glass
windows topped with a raised roof area containing clerestory windows.
Projecting from the windows in an upward barrel shape is a decorative
area of wood. In front of the window area is a small courtyard
containing decorative items salvaged from the 1898 courthouse and old
style triple globe lights. On either side of the central core is a bay
which projects forward. The right hand, or eastern bay, contains a
slightly recessed central panel with two window areas. The left hand,
or western bay, contains a slightly recessed central panel with a deeply
recessed doorway. The building is topped with a plain, darker colored
cornice. The interior features a large mounted elk head and several
murals preserved from the earlier courthouse. The building was
constructed in 1977-78 at a cost of $975,000 by Wiltgen Construction Co.
of LeMars, Iowa.[i]
History: The area now making up
Union County was originally established as
County in 1862, with the county seat established at
Victoria. In 1864, the territorial
legislature renamed it Union
County in sympathy for the Northern side in the Civil War and changed the
boundaries. The county seat was established at
In April of 1865, the voters moved the county seat to Elk Point, and in
1867, the site where the present courthouse sits was deeded to the
county by the first citizen of Elk Point, Eli Wixson. There was already
a two-story, frame building on the site which served as the courthouse.
In 1879, that building was moved to the middle of the block and
extensive improvements were made.[iii]
When the second courthouse was constructed on that site in 1898, the
original courthouse was moved and is still in use as a residence at
407 Washington St. in Elk
The 1898 Courthouse was a three and a half story sandstone structure
with a decorative cornice and towers. It served the county until 1976
when the masonry walls began shifting. Several large cornice stones
fell onto the front steps and the ceiling of the courtroom collapsed.
Due to safety concerns, that courthouse was demolished in 1977 and
replaced with the present structure.[v]
Quasquicentennial - Elk Point,
[ii] SL 1863-1864, ch 14, § 1.
[iii] Elk Point Centennial Committee,
Century in Review, 1859-1959 (1959) pages 35-36.
South Dakota: 1859-1984,