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Courthouse renovation reveals secret

This green pattern and marble edging was part of the original courthouse when it was built in 1915.
Kurt Hildebrand |

It wasn’t a case of painted hardwood cabinets or a secret passage behind the safe, but work on the 100-year-old Douglas County Courthouse did reveal a surprise.

Underneath the government-issue high-wear carpet, courthouse workers discovered the hallway for the main courthouse had tiny hexagonal tiles, with a green pattern along the hallway edge.

The courthouse has undergone several months worth of work, including the removal of asbestos from several of the offices, and the installation of new digital screens in the courthouse.

But it was the main hallway that impressed Chief Deputy Appraiser Frank Dressel.

He said that Douglas County Historical Society Curator Gail Allen confirmed that the tile and 8-inch marble base were on the original courthouse blueprints.

The courthouse was built in 1915 for $25,000 based on plans drawn by Western Nevada architect Frederic J. DeLongchamps and built on land donated by the Dangberg family in 1915.

Completion of the courthouse a century ago resulted in the county seat being moved from Genoa to Minden.

Dressel said the grandfather clock in the county commission chambers, the old courtroom, may have been a gift from Delongchamps, who was known to give clocks as a gift to county buildings he designed.

In a speech to Douglas County commissioners, Dressel pointed out that DeLongchamps designed seven county courthouses in Nevada and two in California between 1909 and 1921.

“His work on the Douglas County Courthouse brought DeLongchamps into contact with Frederick and Clarence O. Dangberg and over the next few years, commissioned the Minden Inn, the Minden Butter Company, the Minden Firehouse, the Minden Wool Warehouse, and several buildings on the Dangberg home ranch,” he said.

DeLongchamps was honored with the University of Nevada’s distinguished Nevadan award in 1966.

Dressel thanked county commissioners, County Manager Jim Nichols, Chris Oakden, Glen Radtke and Nick Nadler for their work to restore the building.

He also recognized the historical society, and Tammy Davis from the County Manager’s office, for the historical photographs of the old courthouse hanging in the hallways.

“Let us all be proud of the history that we have in this great Valley and never take it for granted, and recognize the sacrifices that our forefathers and mothers made to make this place great.”

Douglas County was one of Nevada’s original counties both as a territory and state.

The first territorial legislatures met in Genoa, which is where Nevadans first decided to seek statehood. It was on the early routes to the California goldfields.