In 1887, Colonel D.P. Jenkins donated the land and $1,000 for the construction of a new courthouse in Spokane County, Washington. But the Board of Commissioners didn’t accept the offer until 1893, when the old courthouse became leaky and problematic.
“On June 7, 1893, the Board officially opened the design competition for the new structure of “brick and stone or stone as near fireproof as practical to include commodious vaults for records, plumbing, heating, sewerage, closets, and everything necessary for the courthouse and jail to cost no more than $250,000,'” according to Spokane County’s official website.
Architect W.A. Ritchie, 29, submitted the winning design. “He never attended a formal school of architecture, having received his initial training from a correspondence course conducted by the superintendent of architecture in the U.S. Treasury Department,” the website says. “Before moving to Spokane, he designed and supervised the construction of public buildings and courthouses in Seattle, Bellingham, Port Townsend, Vancouver and Olympia. He had arrived in Spokane just the year prior to winning the courthouse design competition. Kirtland Cutter, the renowned Spokane architect who designed the Monroe Street Bridge, took second place in the competition.”
“The courthouse is said to closely resemble two famous 16th century chateaux in the Loire Valley of France, the Chateau de Chambord, built in 1519 and the Chateau d’Azay Le Rideau built in 1516. Many architects through the years have commented on the masterly replica of a 16th century French Renaissance design, its fine lines of style and proportion with regard to the towers and turrets, the sculpture, iron and brickwork which excel in pattern and craftsmanship. Detailed exterior trim such as shell patterns with wreaths and festoons and decorative arches are a few of the outstanding features of its design. The beautiful center tower, now lighted at night, is a masterpiece of detail in itself.”