Ravalli County Courthouse
Copper king Marcus Daly established local logging operations and platted the town of Hamilton in 1890 to fuel his Anaconda copper mining ventures. When Ravalli County was carved from Missoula County in 1893, Stevensville won designation as county seat. But Daly’s interests soon brought Hamilton a more substantial population and the town became the Ravalli County seat in 1898. County offices were first housed at the local opera house. In 1900, voters approved a $20,000 bond issue, and Daly’s Anaconda Copper Mining Company donated the land on which to build this courthouse. A. J. Gibson designed the new facility while Charles Stabern won the bid as contractor. Gibson’s stunning design merges the Richardsonian Romanesque style with strong classical elements. The result is a pivotal example of the transition between nineteenth and twentieth century tastes. Graceful round-arched Romanesque style windows, popular in Victorian-era public architecture, blend with smooth wall surfaces and a horizontal orientation that reflects a newer trend toward classical styles. The tall corner tower visually interrupts the classical symmetry creating an artistic balance between old and new that is a credit to Gibson’s talent. Completed in 1901, the building originally featured a large second-story courtroom with an eighteen-foot ceiling. Dark-finished wood and plastered walls brightened by electric lighting throughout made this courthouse a source of community pride. The facility served until 1974 when the county built a new courthouse and this building appropriately became the Ravalli County Historical Museum.