Franklin County Courthouse

category : Historic Courthouses
The Franklin County Courthouse was built in 1893 by George P. Washburn, one of the best known 19th century Kansas architects, and is regarded as one of Washburn's most outstanding works.
Courthouses were one of Washburn's specialties and his symmetrical courthouse designs gave unique character to 13 Kansas county seats. The Franklin County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the second courthouse Washburn designed, Johnson County's being the first, now demolished.

Much of the work was done by local craftsmen and workers. Limestone for the basement walls was shipped from Strong City; pressed red-faced brick manufactured by Ottawa Brick and Tile; and sandstone shipped from Warrensburg, Mo. The interior trim was hand oil-rubbed natural oak and door and window trimmings are of solid bronze.

George Putnam Washburn

George Washburn served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He came to Ottawa, Kansas in 1879 working as a carpenter, architect and contractor. In the spring of 1882 Washburn set up an architecture office located on Main Street which would serve the people of Ottawa for almost 60 years.

In 1885, he began his service as architect for the State Board of Charities. Six years later, he built the first of 13 courthouses he would provide for Kansas. That same year Washburn went to work designing the Franklin County Courthouse, a project which was dedicated in October 1893. The project cost including vault doors, oak interior trim and solid bronze window and door trimmings was $66,939.25. The architect spent the next 26 years designing courthouses.

Washburn also designed the Santa Fe Depot, the Forest Park Gates, and the Ottawa University Administration building.

Washburn's work was not limited to public property. He created hundreds of private residences some of which contained Washburn's work as a carpenter as well. His furniture was "obviously the work of a skilled craftsman." His work defines Ottawa Architecture. He used many styles and techniques to make each creation unique. Ottawa is comprised of many houses and buildings well over a hundred years old.

Washburn died May 16, 1922, and was buried in his family's mausoleum, a structure he constructed after the death of his first wife, Alice.

Come visit us in Ottawa, Kansas

Attractions and Upcoming Events

Dietrich Cabin

Located south of the old Ottawa Carnegie Library in Ottawa's City Park, the Dietrich Cabin stands today as a memorial to a courageous couple, who suffered severe hardships on the Kansas frontier and as a tribute to the hundreds of other early pioneers that settled in Franklin County.

Ottawa, KS Memorials

Old Depot Museum

The Old Depot Museum is operated by the Franklin County Historical Society. This incredible, two story, limestone depot was built in 1888

Ottawa, KS Museums

Tauy Jones Mansion

Located northeast of Ottawa 2 miles north on U.S. Highway 59 and then east. The home was built in 1862 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

John Tecumseh "Tauy" Jones, honored as the"Founder of Ottawa University"

Ottawa, KS Famous Homes

Ottawa Community Arts Center

Ottawa Community Arts Council (OCAC), of Ottawa, Kansas , is a non-profit arts organization that has been in existence since 1977. The Ottawa Community Arts Council has been the official arts organization for Ottawa and Franklin County for over 30

Ottawa, KS Arts

Ottawa City Park

The Ottawa City Park is a beautiful compliment of nature's architecture among the historic works of George P. Washburn in the downtown district. Located at 5th and Main, the park offers a spacious area for strolling, relaxing, or picnics with playground equipment for the children.

Ottawa, KS Parks

Things to do Historic Courthouses near Ottawa, KS