Created By: North Dakota State University
The first Cass County courthouse was built in 1874 where the current day Northern Pacific railway depot is located. The current Cass County courthouse, at the 3rd Avenue location, opened on July 31, 1906. It was built on the same location as the courthouse before it which burnt down during renovations in 1903. It cost about $141,000 to build, more than double the approximated $50,000. By today’s standards, the building would have cost $3,751,172.2 The courthouse included a jail and sheriff’s living quarters.
In 1982 an addition added the north wing of the building.
Another addition in 1986 added the south wing.
In 2000 ground was broken in south Fargo for a new jail. Upon completion in 2002, the jail at the location was razed.
In 2012 the west addition was finished. This 16 million dollar addition was built using some reclaimed materials from the jail and sheriff’s residence that stood where the new section is now. As well, the skywalk connecting the courthouse to the annex building was a welcome addition for employees who’d been crossing busy 10th St to get from one location to the other.
The last person ever executed in North Dakota, John Rooney, was hanged in Bismarck Penitentiary on October 17, 1905 for a murder he was convicted of committing in summer 1902. Rooney was housed for some time here in Cass County as two prominent Fargo lawyers had taken his case. At his execution, John thanked his lawyers, Stambaugh and Spalding, for their “noble fight for the life of a penniless man.” (5) Burleigh Spalding, of Stambaugh and Spalding, was a U.S. Congressman from 1899-1901 and again from 1903-1905.
“John Rooney ( - 1905) - Find A Grave Memorial.” Accessed December 4, 2016. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=164993692
Photo: “Cass County Court House, Fargo, N.D. :: Photo Gallery - Images from the NDSU Institute for Regional Studies (NDSU).” Accessed November 21, 2016. http://digitalhorizonsonline.org/cdm/ref/collection/uw/id/4968.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Fargo In Flames