Phelps County is named for Williams Phelps, who was an early settler in the region and captain of a steamboat on the Missouri River.
Surrounding County Courthouses:
E – Kearney County
S – Harlan County
W – Gosper County
Created: February 11, 1873
Williamsburg 1873 – 1879
Phelps Center 1879 – 1884
Holdrege 1884 – present
County Courthouse – Holdrege
Location: 715 5th Avenue / West Avenue
Built: 1910 – 1911
Style: Beaux Arts
Architect: William F Gernandt of Omaha
Contractor: Rowles & Bailey of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Description: The building faces south and is a two story buff colored brick and concrete structure. The rectangular shaped building is located on spacious landscaped grounds in the center of Holdrege. The basement is ashlar limestone, and limestone is also used for the massive columns and other trim. The stone contrasts well with buff-colored brick. A prominent feature are immense semi-circular painted metal arches that are centered on three sides of the building. The arches rise above a rather simple paneled brick parapet and are linked by a heavy moulded metal cornice having block modillions. The curving shape is repeated over the entry and for windows that flank the main entrance on the south facade. The south front has a projecting center section with four columns rising from the second story to the top of the third story where a large arch is formed by the wide decorative cornice. On the first story, the entrance has two columns with an arch pediment above and a small balcony between the second and third stories. The roof line is flat. The interior has a spacious central corridor has a series of large county offices off it with the supervisors meeting room located at the north end. Circular motifs from the exterior are repeated on the interior for the railing around the stairs to the second story, and for metal balusters. Other original elements include a mosaic in the foyer with “PHELPS” in it, dusty pink marble stair steps, and black and white marble wainscoting and stair risers. On the second story the district courtroom occupied nearly the full extent of the west side of the building, and related judicial uses take up the remaining space. Behind the judge’s bench is a curved niche with curved woodwork which serves as a fine backdrop for the judge’s chair. In the niche is a “Statue of Justice,” sculpted by Holdrege artist Henry Sundeen. The building is connected to the County Justice Center along the east side.
See: The architect, William F Gernandt of Omaha, designed courthouses in Clay County, Dawson County, Merrick County, Pawnee County, Polk County, Richardson County, Sarpy County, Valley County and Webster County.
See: The contractor, Rowles & Bailey of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, constructed courthouses in Nebraska in Nemaha County; in North Dakota in Pembina County; and in Oklahoma in Grant County and Jackson County.
See: National Register of Historic Places – Phelps County Courthouse
County Justice Center – Holdrege
Location: 715 5th Avenue / West Avenue
Built: 2003 – 2004
Description: The building faces south and is a two story buff colored brick and stone structure. The building is located along the east side of the courthouse. The south front has a central projecting section with entrances on either side of the first story. A recessed glass section rises to a curved roof section at the top. The roof line is flat. The building contains the courtrooms. The building houses the District Court and County Court of the 10th Judicial District.
History: The county was created in 1873 and Williamsburg was selected as the county seat. In 1879, the county seat was moved to Phelps Center and the first courthouse was built. The county seat was moved to Holdrege in 1884. The second courthouse was a flimsy modest structure built by the citizens of Holdrege on land donated by the Lincoln Land Company in 1884. The third courthouse was a two story frame structure built in 1884. The fourth and present courthouse was constructed in 1910 to 1911 at a cost of $107,072. The County Justice Center was constructed in 2003 to 2004.
County Courthouse - Holdrege
County Justice Center - Holdrege
Photos taken 2010