Courthouse History

Reference Notes


Field notes assembled and collected from the references indicated at the end of this page are by Bob Stockwell, former County Manager. January 2002 information is by  Stella Davis, former Carlsbad Current-Argus writer now County Commissioner, who references Bob Stockwell as her source.

January 2, 1891


Eddy County Commissioners met and set the date for going over plans and specifications for a new courthouse and jail. (20)
Eddy County Courthouse in 1914
February 9, 1891
County Commissioners met and set the maximum amount of $30,000 for a new courthouse and jail, to include architect fees. (21,132)

August 3, 1891
The Witt Brothers and the Pauley Jail Building Manufacturing Company received the contract to build the courthouse and jail. The exterior was to be of dark brick, made locally. The courthouse maximum cost was set by the commissioners at $30,000 and was a bond issue. Although the contract was let on this day, the Commissioners could not agree on a location. (1)

November 16, 1891
Although the commissioners still could not settle on a site for the courthouse, they accepted a deed to all of Block "3" from Mr. C.B. Eddy, President of the Pecos Valley Town Company. The land is where the courthouse stands today, 100 North Canal Street, Carlsbad, NM. There was no cost to the county for this land. (1, 6, 33)

1891
Construction began on the courthouse. The Witt Brothers got the bid to build. (1) Cost was $21,000 for the courthouse portion of the wing. The courthouse was to be the 1891 Victorian Style. (5)

June 25, 1892
County officials moved into the new courthouse. There were already prisoners in its jail. (1)

October 8, 1907
The County Commission discussed the building of a new jail, which had been recommended by the district judge and several recent grand juries. The motion carried by 2 to 1 to proceed with the idea of building a new county jail. (138)

November 8, 1907
The Commission met to consider bids for the building of a new jail. No positive action was taken at this meeting. (139)

August 9, 1909
The County Commission voted to build a concrete walk around the courthouse and a concrete driveway out of the courthouse. (39)

January 5, 1910
The Commission voted to appropriate funds for a bandstand to be built on the courthouse lawn in the amount of $70. (40) On Sunday afternoons, citizens would gather on the lawn to hear music from local musicians or the fire department band. (8)

June 6, 1910
The Commission approved the contract with Carlsbad Plumbing Company to hook up all plumbing, sewer and sanitation lines for the courthouse and jail. (125)

August 23, 1913
A contract was awarded to Campbell Brothers for the construction of an "East Wing" for $38,212. The exterior of the new addition was a lighter colored brick designed with more modern architectural features. The ornate window treatment and the steeple effect were eliminated from the East Wing addition. (2, 233)

December 11, 1913
The Commission approved an offer by The Public Utility Company to install electric lights in the new East Wing. (236)

April 8, 1914
The Commission approved a bid by Barry Engineering Co of El Paso for $2,457 to do the plumbing and heating for the East Wing. (238)

April 21, 1914
The Commission voted an additional $621 to have a smoke stack put on the courthouse. (239)

August 4, 1914
Architect I.H. Rapp advised the Commission that the new East Wing was completed. (1, 2, 6, 241)
January 26, 1938
A petition with 258 signatures was submitted to the Commission requesting to call a special election on Feb 19, 1938, to build a courthouse and jail not to exceed $190,000. (46)

April 6, 1938
The Commission approved the sale and removal of salvage of the old east wing of the courthouse and jail to Arnold Transfer Co of Carlsbad for $299. (54)
Eddy County Court House
August 19, 1938
The County entered into an agreement with the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, known as the W.P.A., to remodel the courthouse and jail. (55) WPA said it would provide up to $112,500 providing they approved all plans and expenditures. (3)

September 6, 1938
A motion was passed to pay Architect R.W. Vorhees extra compensation for extra work on the courthouse plans, as he changed the plans from the original plans to a Santa Fe style building. The Lembke Construction Co of Albuquerque, NM, was awarded the contract, which entailed the use of W.P.A. labor. The construction cost was $184,000. (57)

January 1939
The commission approved a change order authorizing terrazzo floors - instead of the original cement floors - in several areas of the courthouse, including the Justice of the Peace Office. Throughout the construction process, numerous change orders were approved. Among the changes was a 15-bed dormitory built on the fourth floor for court juries. (3)

November 6, 1939
This alteration converted the structure to early Spanish architecture. This project was completed on November 6, 1939. The 1891 Victorian style portion of the County Courthouse was removed during this 1939 remodeling. (2, 6)

1940
In the 1940s, cattle brands of the regions and county were etched onto the west door of the courthouse. (3)

1950
During the early 1950s, the courthouse parking lot on the north side of the courthouse was enlarged, and later during that decade, the courthouse parking lot was enlarged to accommodate employees. (3)

1953
In 1953, an air conditioning system was installed in the courthouse and jail for $28,100. By the end of the decade, a 90mm aircraft gun was installed on the south lawn to commemorate county residents lost in battle. (3)

September 1959
The commission gave its approval for the US Border Patrol to occupy office space in the courthouse. That same year, local architect Art Gorrell and Miles Brittle met with the commission to present final specifications for the construction of a juvenile detention center wing to be added to the north side of the east wing of the facility. (3)

May 2, 1960
The new juvenile wing was completed by Paul Bates Construction Company with a bid of $52,300. That same year, an elevator was installed for a cost of $11,823. (3)

July 1965
The jail area in the east wing of the courthouse was remodeled at a cost of $133,595. (3)

1968
New Mexico State Police moved into renovated offices that had formerly served as the Sheriff's garage. The US Border Patrol was asked to move out. (3)

April 1969
The county's Civil Defense Director asked for more office space and was given the US Border Patrol's previous space, but had to share it with US Veterans Service two days a week. (3)

1974
Art Gorrell drew up specifications for a three phase courthouse remodeling project. The first phase would be to install a new five stop elevator. The second phase involved the remodeling of the Sheriff's living quarters, and the last phase would be the remodeling of the County Health Office in the basement. (3)

May 1975
The $448,644 project was completed. Funding for the renovation came from a Law Enforcement Assistance Administration grant and US General Revenue Sharing Funds. (3)

1977
The commission approved the remodeling of the old health office following their moving to new quarters on West Stevens Street. Administration personnel filled the vacated offices. (3)

December 1978
Fifth Judicial District Judge Harvey Fort moved his office to the 4th floor of the courthouse, which had recently been occupied by the district attorney. (3)

April 1979
The County Commission asked then-Sheriff Tom Granger to vacate the sheriff's family living quarters in the courthouse basement. Over the years, the family quarters had been home to a number of sheriffs and their families. The county retained the kitchen area in order to continue feeding prisoners in the jail upstairs. (3)

Early 1980s
The county installed a new air conditioner compressor, a new roof, a minor remodeling of the sheriff's offices, and exterior work on the building. (3)

1989
The county moved the law library out to the Jackson Building at 302 N Main Street. (3)

May 1990
The commission awarded the low bid of $178,677 to Courson Construction to remodel the second and third floors. The Court Clerk moved to the second floor and the County Treasurer moved to the former law library in the basement. A new office for a second judge was created on the third floor, along with a conference room for attorneys and their clients. A holding cell for prisoners was also created. The judges' offices were moved from the 4th floor to the new offices on the 3rd floor. The Juvenile Probation Officer moved from the basement to the fourth floor. (3)

November 1992
With more computerization in the courthouse, the commission approved running additional and larger electrical outlets to the south side of the courthouse. (3)

1993
By 1993, it became evident to county officials that the old, dark jail was not meeting the county's needs. If the county continued to drag its feet in addressing the jail conditions, it faced a strong possibility that the federal government would step in and order the county to build a new jail at a prohibitive cost. The County Commission hired H.B. Construction of Albuquerque built a new jail across the street at a cost of $2.6 million. The commission hired the same construction company to build new sheriff's offices next to the jail for $768,416. (3)

1995
Durham and Associates were hired to provide schematic designs and design development for the old vacated jail in the west wing of the courthouse. Durham gave a replacement cost estimate of $5.6 million and a renovation cost of $2.6 million.
In the November 1995 General Election, the county put a bond issue on the ballot that would have generated the needed income to pay for the remodeling. The measure failed by a vote of 9,129 against and 6,173 for. (3)

1998
The county made another attempt to get the bond for the remodeling passed. This time the initiative was successful, and renovation of the courthouse began in 2001. (3)

January 2002
The remodeling was completed. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance was resolved as well as upgrading plumbing, electricity and heating/air conditioning. Another courtroom and a secured, north entrance was added. A water well, discovered under the parking lot, was converted to a Pueblo-styled portico with a simulated river. This area was named Pioneer Plaza. Engraved pavers with pioneer family names were cemented around perimeter of the Plaza.

Donation
The Bill Mitchell and Beauford families donated an 1892 red sandstone cornerstone acquired during demolition in 1938 and salvaged by their grandfather, Leonard Beauford. The cornerstone was permanently affixed to the cement floor in the Plaza near the northeast wall.

References
  • 1. History of Eddy County:
    • a. Keleher, William A., The Fabulous Frontier, Twelve New Mexico Items, Santa Fe, NM, The Rydal Press, c1945.
    • b. Myers, Lee, The Pearl of the Pecos; the Story of the Establishment of Eddy, New Mexico and Irrigation of the Lower Pecos River of New Mexico Compiled from Eddy Newspapers between October 12, 1889 and October 23, 1897. Compilation and introduction written over a 6-year period, 1965-1970, copyright 1974 by Lee Myers.
    • c. Pageant of Progress, presented by the Carlsbad Diamond Jubilee, Inc., commemorating the 75th anniversary of Carlsbad, NM, August 5-10, 1963, written and produced by Joseph T. Newlin. The script is based on local history supplied by Doris Gregory of the Scenario Committee, "Current-Argus", and Carlsbad Public Library. Printed by Charlie Gregory, Carlsbad, NM.
    • d. Pearce, T.M., ed. New Mexico Place Names; A Geographical Dictionary. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, c1965.
    • e. The Pecos River Commission of New Mexico and Texas; a Report of a Decade of Progress, 1950-1960. Compiled under the direction of the Pecos River Commission, Carlsbad, NM, by Robert T. Lingle and Dee Linford, Santa Fe, NM. The Rydal Press, 1961.
    • f. Schroeder, Albert H. and Dan S. Matson. A Colony on the Move; Gaspar Castano de Sosa's Journal, 1590-1591. The School of American Research, 1965. (Printed by Alphabet Printing Co, Salt Lake City.)
    • g. Terrell, John Upton, Journey Into Darkness. New York, Wm. Morrow, 1962.
  • 2. A four phase history of the Eddy County Courthouse which has been recorded with the county clerk for several years. It is not known who compiled the history or from what references the material was taken. However, it appears to be correct from information found in county commission minutes and from statements made by persons or employees who were here at the time.
  • 3. Article in "Current-Argus" March 8, 2002 edition of 1992 by Stella Davis.
  • 5. Article in "Our Town" edition of 1992, dated March 29, 1992 by Donia Dunlap.
  • 6. Report by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Parks Service, "National Register of Historic Places, Inventory Nomination Form", on NPS Form 10-900-a (3-82), which was received by Eddy County from NPS on March 14, 1994.
  • 8. Article taken from the Carlsbad Current-Argus, dated August 13, 1988, and written by Nancy Walker, Chairman of the Centennial Steering Committee for the City of Carlsbad.
  • Note: The following references are all taken from the Eddy County Board of Commissioners' minutes, which are of record in the Eddy County Clerk's Office. Any reference that indicates a date only represents the county commissioner minutes of that date.
    • 20. January 2, 1891.
    • 21. February 9, 1891.
    • 33. November 16, 1891.
    • 39. August 9, 1909.
    • 40. January 5, 1910.
    • 46. January 26, 1938.
    • 54. April 6, 1938.
    • 55. August 19, 1938.
    • 57. September 6, 1938.
    • 132. February 9, 1891.
    • 138. October 8, 1907.
    • 139. November 8, 1907.
    • 233. August 23, 1913.
    • 236. December 11, 1913.
    • 239. April 21, 1914.
    • 241. August 4, 1914.
Pioneer Plaza
Eddy County Courthouse in 2007