A tour of the one-time smallest courthouse in America

A unique building in the Sandhills has been giving a big title from Ripley's Believe It or Not.

In the town's city park, you'll find what's known as the smallest courthouse in America. "And it may still be, although it's not in use," Arthur resident Carolyn Cerny said. "Ripley's Believe It or Not had found that out that it was the smallest courthouse in America."

The building was built in 1914, and you can just feel the history when you look at the building from the outside, and that feeling becomes even stronger when you step inside. "The county became a county in 1913, and there were just cattle grazing here," Cerny said. "So then they fenced it off and put a covered wagon in here for a while. And then after that, they moved an old shack in, and used that as their building for a courthouse, and they started plans to make this in 1914."

The community paid for the courthouse, by raising $900. That's what it took to build it. The courthouse was used until 1961 when the new courthouse was built right next door. Now the old courthouse is a museum. "I think most people when they go inside the first thing they see are the desks and the people, where the people sat, and many people that come here are people who maybe had relatives here, so they like to look and see where their ancestors were, and if they had any part in it," Cerny said.

The old vault inside the courthouse has recently been restored, and it contains more connections to the past. "I think people will enjoy looking for old court records, ancestors and marriage records, too," Cerny said.

In the old courthouse, county leaders shared rooms, and didn't have their own offices. It's definitely old-school in this old courthouse, and a reminder of how things have changed.

"We have all of the room at the new courthouse and still need more because of how things have changed with all of the computers and everything that we need," Cerny said.

Thankfully, not much change has happened inside the old Arthur County Courthouse. It was a building that served many purposes.
Now it serves to remind all of us of simpler times in Arthur County.