The Knox County Courthouse Dedicated 75 Years Ago
By Echo Menges
Carl Kriegshauser, 85, of Edina has been living here his whole life. When the Knox County Courthouse was dedicated in 1935 he was ten years old. The dedication celebration lasted from Thursday, September 12 to Saturday, September 14, 1935.
According to Kriegshauser his family was host to a very important person involved in the construction of the courthouse. Mr. J.E. Williams of the J.E. Williams Construction Company out of St. Louis. Mr. Williams was contracted to build the Knox County courthouse in 1934 and lived with the Kriegshauser family while he was overseeing the project.
“I don’t know what his first name was. I only knew him as Mr. Williams.” Said Kriegshauser. “My mother kept roomers. There was no motel in Edina. There was a hotel.
This was depression time really. That was when we were in the middle of a terrible depression.”
According to Kriegshauser many families took in “boarders” during that time to bring in some extra money.
The Knox County courthouse that stands today is not the first Knox County courthouse. The original Knox County courthouse burned down December 24, 1885, almost exactly 49 years before construction began on the courthouse that still stands today. This Christmas Eve will mark the 150th anniversary since the original courthouse burned down.
According to Kriegshauser before the new courthouse was built, office space was leased and court was held there.
“We didn’t have a courthouse. Court was held above the antique store on the corner. Up above there was where the courthouse business was taken care of.” Said Kriegshauser.
According to Sentinel archive articles nine sealed bids to build the courthouse were submitted. The bids were publicly opened November 18, 1934. J.E. Williams had the lowest “base bid” of $55,277. Planners added “alternate provisions” to the total, which brought the cost of building the courthouse to $61,882.00.
One month later on December 18, 1934 a groundbreaking ceremony was held and work began on the Knox County courthouse. The presiding judge, Frank Howerton, lifted the first spade full of earth from the ground where the courthouse now sits and according to the archives, “J.E. Williams quickly took charge.”
Kriegshauser remembers when the corner stone was laid and spending time with the man who was hired to build the
“They carried materials up on this elevator and the elevator was where you go down into the bathrooms. Mr. Williams used to take me along with him when he would be inspecting.” Said Kriegshauser. “He was older. Compared to me everyone was older. My thoughts were of getting out of my knickers into my first long pants.” Said Kriegshauser.
Kriegshauser says the courthouse is one of the few things in Edina that hasn’t changed much over the years.
“It was really one of the finest buildings in town at the time.” Said Kriegshauser. “It was a very modern building. There was nothing like it around here.”