Madison County was one of the original nine counties created by the first territorial legislature in 1865. This building, constructed in 1866, served as the county courthouse during Virginia City’s stint as territorial capital (1865-1875). When the present courthouse on Wallace Street replaced it in 1876, three Catholic Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, came to Virginia City at the request of Father Francis Kelleher. The sisters opened St. Mary’s Hospital for miners in the old courthouse. The hospital briefly prospered and the three sisters worked tirelessly caring for patients, cooking, sterilizing instruments, and doing endless hospital laundry. Placer gold was soon exhausted and St. Mary’s closed for lack of patients in 1879. In 1949, Charles Bovey remodeled the interior as a hotel, but the exterior, with its clapboard siding and tall false front, is little changed from the 1870s.