Rosebud County Courthouse

Scandal and intrigue surrounded the construction of Rosebud County Courthouse in 1914. Rosebud County citizens recognized the need for a new courthouse when they passed a $125,000 bond issue in 1911 to fund the building. To design a suitable replacement for the original courthouse—a wood-frame former schoolhouse—county commissioners hired Montana architects Link and Haire. That highly respected firm ultimately designed courthouses for eighteen of Montana’s fifty-six counties. Featuring a colossal portico and an octagonal tower topped by a copper dome, Link and Haire’s design was well received, and Gray’s Construction Company of South Dakota began excavation amid high praise in 1912. Trouble commenced when it became clear that the project was more than $40,000 over budget. In September 1913, the editor of the Forsyth Times-Journal lambasted the county commissioners for the cost overrun and brought suit to restrain them from further expenditure. Apparently worried that his company would not be paid in full, Gray’s foreman refused to turn over the keys to the completed building, despite a court order. The clash had moments of high comedy: at one point, the foreman locked himself inside the building and secreted himself between the ceiling and the roof. Ultimately, a grand jury vindicated the commissioners. Ruling that the building’s design was “imposing and attractive” and its interior “very harmoniously and artistically decorated,” the grand jury declared that the county received “full value for the money expended.” Their judgment still stands. The elegant Neoclassical building remains one of Rosebud County’s architectural jewels.

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1250 Main Street, Forsyth, Montana ~ Public