December 19, 1996 in City

Lincoln County Courthouse To Reopen Year After Arson Fire

By The Spokesman-Review

The Lincoln County Courthouse will have a “grand reopening” Friday, one day before the anniversary of the Dec. 21, 1995, fire that gutted the building.

County employees will give tours of the renovated courthouse after a public ceremony at 1 p.m.

The 99-year-old landmark looks the same from the outside, and architects attempted to retain its original character inside with lots of dark-stained woodwork. Photographs of the original were used to design the woodwork as well as a replica of the distinctive rooftop cupola.

But the interior has been completely redesigned and modernized. A fire-sprinkler system and burglar alarm make it less likely that the building will burn again.

Davenport resident Will Hill, 17, pleaded guilty to setting fire to the courthouse last December and is serving a 2-3/4-year prison term. Insurance is paying for the damage he caused, which is expected to total between $6 million and $7 million.

Fire helped bring the courthouse to Davenport in the first place.

Although the Territorial Legislature picked Davenport to be the county seat in 1883, Sprague usurped the designation in the election of November 1884. Then much of Sprague burned in August 1895 and lost much of its population when the Northern Pacific Railroad Co. moved its divisional headquarters to Spokane.

Davenport reclaimed the county seat in the 1896 general election. Construction of the current courthouse began immediately and was completed in August 1897 at a cost of $12,000.

, DataTimes

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