ST. CLOUD -- One hundred years ago construction was underway on the Stearns County Courthouse.

Stearns History Museum Archivist Steve Penick says one of the most distinguishing features incorporated into that building was its dome top.

You see that yellow terra cotta dome. If you drive up at night it's lit.

He says, during that time, other city and county government buildings had domes but not to that size.

Stearns History Museum
Stearns History Museum
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As for the clocks on the outside of the building, Penick says for that time period it wasn't all that unusual.

During that World War I period, in Cold Spring for example I can think of a church that had a clock.  I kind of think of it a little bit as a community thing for pedestrians walking downtown.

Penick says the clocks used to also have bells that would chime every 15 minutes. He says he's not sure what happened to them, or when they stopped ringing, but he believes some of the bells might have been moved over to St. Mary's Cathedral.

Stearns History Museum
Stearns History Museum
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Other features on the outside of the building include the six large granite columns and the courthouse plaza.

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It is a stately building to this day including the grand staircase inside.

If people like looking at a little bit of accent wood, with marble as the most distinct feature.  When you go up the grand staircase, you can either go left or right, there's a large mural in the center that was done by a St. Paul artist.

Stearns History Museum
Stearns History Museum
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Penick says there was a major restoration of the building in 1991, but the commissioners at the time made sure to keep the character of the public places as much as they could. However, Penick says because it is still a working government building it has had to be modernized over the years.

Here's a video I did about the courthouse features back in 2014.  

The Stearns History Museum doesn't have a lot of interior photos of the building, partly because of security reasons.

Once a month Penick is on the News @ Noon Show on WJON to talk about the history of the Stearns County Courthouse during this 100th anniversary of the building.

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