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Hidden Places in Your Town Merrill

By: Erik Mrotek Email
By: Erik Mrotek Email

The Lincoln County Courthouse and its clock tower have been a distinctive part of the downtown for 110 years.

Inside, it's an example of the architecture of the time - a courthouse in the Colonial Design. There's even copies of the original blueprints still on file.

At the turn of the 20th century, it cost just under $120,000 dollars to build and required a million bricks for its walls.

From the mosaic tiled floor to the rotunda that stretches 50 into the air, great care was taken to make the courthouse a showplace for the community.

While it is a public building, there are areas that few of the public ever get to see.

One in particular - the tower.

Up a tall, narrow staircase you reach the first level that's the top of the rotunda. Then it's up an even longer staircase that winds along the wall to get to the roof level. That's where time stands still - if a desk-sized clockwork quits working.

The mechanism is dated from the time the courthouse opened... with the the only visible change being the modern electrical boxes added to it.

Workers say they oil it but only move it when it's Daylight Saving time. Charlie Johnson with Courthouse Maintenance admits it's delicate, "They told us not to break anything because parts are hard to get."

But even though this piece of machinery controls the timekeeping of the present, all around it are pieces of the past. Things like old files and law books are set aside on shelves and something you wouldn't expect to find - names of those with a connection to the building.

In a tradition that dates back to the 1930's - or even a little earlier - people who worked in the courthouse have climbed the stairs to sign their name on a wall. Making them a part of Your Town Merrill's history.


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