Summit County Courthouse

Establishing a County Seat

Coalville hasn’t always been the county seat of Summit County, the first courthouse was located in Wanship.  In 1861, Wanship was considered the most centrally located community in Summit County.   While towns such as Coalville and Park City were still getting their start, business had to be conducted somewhere and Wanship was that place.

By 1872, the town of Coalville had taken off.  Coal was discovered and businesses prospered in conjunction with the nearby town of Echo and the Union Pacific Railroad.  Residents of Coalville petitioned to move the seat to their town.

The first courthouse in Coalville was not located where the present courthouse stands.  A two-story brick building was built on the bench above Chalk Creek and Coalville officially became the county seat.  At the time, Park City was a small community described as having “a Montgomery store, a blacksmith shop, a saloon, the McHenry Boarding House, a meat market, four log houses, and a number of tents.”

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Petitioning for County Seat

By 1880, however, Park City boasted over 2,000 residents and became a boomtown for the silver mining industry.  Due to the growing population, Park City wanted the official place of government business closer to them.  

In 1895, Park City petitioned for a vote to move the county seat to Park City.  A two-thirds vote was needed to win.  Due to the high threshold needed to win the election, the initiative failed miserably.

Parkites didn’t give up and in 1902, they managed to get the issue back on the ballot.  This time they were more organized, but narrowly failed to win.  Coalville would remain the county’s seat.

New Courthouse

With the seat firmly in place, in 1903, Summit County Commissioners requested bids to build a new courthouse.  The county would pay no more than $20,000 and preferred that the materials and workforce come from local resources to keep the revenue within the county.  The construction bid was awarded to contractors E.J. Beggs of Park City and J.H. Salmon of Coalville for $19,887.  The hand-carved white sandstone was chiseled out of a local quarry that was owned by Salmon as well.

By 1904, the building was completed in a Romanesque Revival style, similar to the design of the Salt Lake City/County Building.  One year later, the jailhouse was added on the northeast side.  In 1973, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Remodeling & Renovating

As Summit County has rapidly increased in population, our beautiful courthouse has needed to grow as well.  In 1979, the jailhouse was torn down with the exception of one wall that was incorporated into a 5,000 square foot addition on the north side.  This created space for a new jail and an additional courtroom.

At this time, the historic part of the building was remodeled.  The ceilings were lowered and the original embossed, tin ceilings were covered with wood paneling.  The fixtures and windows were all replaced with the latest 1970’s look.

In 1997, an additional 10,000 square foot, two-story addition was built on the east side and extensive interior and exterior remodeling was done to the main, historic structure.  The old jail cells were remodeled into offices and the historic building restored to its original condition.  Total cost was estimated at $3.7 million.

The Summit County Courthouse stands as a testament that we can retain the old as well as bring in the new with style, compassion and grace.