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A postcard drawing of a 2-1/2 story Victorian courthouse with a flag on the roof.  Castle Rock is in the background.
Jefferson County Courthouse Postcard - Golden History Museum Collection

146 Years Ago
The March 6, 1878 Colorado Transcript described the dedication ceremonies for the new Jefferson County Courthouse. It said that the crowd was immense, but patient, as everyone had come expecting a crowd. In addition to the many Jefferson County attendees, visitors had come from other cities, including Denver, Georgetown, Central City, and Boulder.

Several speeches had been scheduled, with A. H. DeFrance first in the lineup. Since he hadn’t yet appeared, they called on a Denver lawyer to extemporize on DeFrance’s topic: “Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, for whom this county was named.” He ignored the topic, but told the crowd what they wanted to hear: that the new building was “one of the greatest and most enduring monuments of what can be accomplished by pluck and perseverance.”

Photograph of the Jefferson County Courthouse, which opened in 1878.  It is surrounded by saplings.
Jefferson County Courthouse, when it was new (and the trees were young)

He spoke of the progress Colorado had seen in the less than 20 years since the first gold-seekers had arrived. “We have been reached by the railroad, by the telegraph, by the telephone, by the newspapers without number, and by everything that renders human life comfortable, luxurious and aspiring.” The speech was greeted with applause from the men and waving of handkerchiefs by the women.

Other speakers followed, interspersed with songs from a band, and at 8PM they began a dance. Those who couldn’t fit in the courtroom where the dance was held used the other rooms to talk and play games. From 10PM till 2AM, there was a buffet supper set out in the basement (which was the jail). Cold meat, bread, cake, pastry, and exceptionally good coffee were supplied, courtesy of the citizens of Golden. The band played 40 dances, and the party went on until the break of day.

the courthouse during demolition.  The second floor has already been removed.
1878 Courthouse during demolition - Golden History Museum

The 1878 courthouse stood at the top of the hill, at 15th Street and Washington Avenue. Large houses were built around it, and the neighborhood was known as “Courthouse Hill.” It was replaced in 1953 and demolished in 1963.

Transparent image of the former courthouse, superimposed on a modern photo of the same property, at 15th and Washington.
Ghost image, showing where the courthouse was located at 15th and Washington

You can see the former location of the courthouse by looking across Washington Avenue from Foothills Art Center.

Thanks to the Golden History Museum for providing the online cache of historic Transcripts, and to the Golden Transcript for documenting our history since 1866!