Teton County Courthouse
In 1906, Choteau’s newspaper, the Acantha, proudly celebrated the completion of the new courthouse. “This splendid edifice,” its editor predicted, “… will stand for years as a monument to the honor and integrity of all the people of the .” Built of locally quarried sandstone, the two-and-one-half-story building has served its community for over a century. From 1893 to 1906, the county operated from rented rooms in several different buildings. By 1905, however, the need for a permanent courthouse was clear—at least to the residents of Choteau. Others further from the county seat had their doubts. When commissioners proposed a $40,000 bond issue to construct a permanent courthouse, a spirited newspaper war ensued. The Choteau Acantha enthusiastically championed the bond measure. The Conrad Observer vehemently opposed it, motivated by the hope that Conrad might someday replace Choteau as the county seat. Conrad achieved its political ambitions when the legislature carved Pondera from Teton in 1919. But it lost this early battle; the bond issue passed 366 to 316. Kalispell architects Joseph Gibson and George Shanley designed the building, likely adapting the plan from their 1903 design for Flathead High School. Their plan successfully embodied the county’s ambitions. The symmetrical façade, central three-story tower, bracketed cornice, arched entrances, and low, hipped roof make the courthouse an excellent example of Renaissance Revival style architecture. Commonly used for large public buildings, the style denoted permanence and governmental authority, both important symbolic concepts for the young county.