Earlier this summer I ventured up to Boulder for a meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology. I got to Boulder a little early to nose around Pearl Street and discovered this gem of a building: the Boulder County Courthouse.
Built between 1933 and 1934 and designed in the Art Deco style by architect Glen H. Huntington, the Boulder County Courthouse building replaced the original Second-Empire style courthouse that burned in 1932. The postcard below shows the original building (postcard courtesy Courthouse History). I am sure the citizens of Boulder were shocked to have this stately, albeit oppressive-looking brick and stone structure replaced with the light-colored, Cubist design of the new stone courthouse.
According to Thomas Noel, the current courthouse was built using buff sandstone “taken from bridge abutments of the dismantled Switzerland Trail Railroad.” (Thomas Jacob Noel, Guide to Colorado Historic Places: Sites Funded by the State Historical Fund. Boulder, CO: Big Earth Publishing, 2007. p. 37).
Notice that the dimensions of the sandstone blocks are irregular, which accents the stepping-stone pattern of the building’s façade. The sandstone naturally contains iron, which you can see dripping out of some of the units in the photo below. The windows and spandrels (the gray panels between the windows) are cast metal – probably aluminum.
The wonderful frieze above the building entrance shows a miner with his pick and a farmer with his sickle, with a rising (or setting?) sun behind them. The frieze is made of several pieces of buff-colored terra cotta. Although the building is no longer a courthouse, it houses county government offices.
The courthouse building and the fountain in the lawn facing Pearl Street were both preserved using funds from Colorado’s State Historical Fund.