As one approaches the city of Rugby from any direction, the first thing that attracts the eye is the beautiful and massive structure with its dome of graceful outlines. As one approaches nearer, its beauty and massiveness becomes more apparent. A brief description, though we do not feel competent to do it justice, follows.
The building on the ground is 96 feet 6 inches from east to west, and 66 feet from north to south with the front entrance projecting 9 feet from the main building by a width of 30 feet, and three projections, one on the east, south and west side 5 feet 28 inches.
The style of architecture is Modified Renaissance. The foundation is built of concrete, and all interior construction throughout is all reinforced concrete. The building is faced with Hebron pressed brick, with Bedford stone trimmings, and is tipped off with a dome 28 feet in diameter which extends from the grade line to the tip of the same nearly 100 feet.
The main entrance faces toward the north and is flanked by two massive brick piers and stone columns with Corindian caps. The Latin words, PAX and LEX, are inscribed in a shield over an ornamental wreath, in English meaning PEACE and LAW. In the entablature, over the entrance, are inscribed the words "Pierce County Court House". On each side of the entrance steps, on solid cut stone buttresses, there are two massive bronze standards for the purpose of illuminating the approach to the court house at night.
A person on entering the building passes through large copper doors and enters into a spacious vestibule, finished throughout in marble, and from there ascends a flight of stairs to the first floor. The stairs are all built of reinforced concrete and marble trimming. The floors on all rotundas, halls and corridors are of marble terrazzo, inlaid with cube mosaic. From the stair hall, which is elaborately finished and decorated, one enters into a rotunda 20 feet in diameter beautifully finished with marble and stucco work, highly decorated with a stained glass ceiling over the same.
The dome is one of the show features of the court house and has no equal at the present time in the state. The ceiling of the dome is divided into four panels, and is beautifully decorated with paintings of large size illustrating the four epochs of this part of the country. On the north panel is a buffalo hunting scene; on the west is a picture of the family bound for this country in the old-time prairie schooner; on the east is the primitive shack with a small patch of broken ground, and on the south panel is shown the modern way of plowing with powerful traction engine. The whole is an artistic piece of work. In the open space on the outside of the top of the dome is an electric light which can be seen for miles, and may be the means of saving the life of a lost wanderer in a blizzard, if we ever have any more of them.
To the right of the dome, at the end of the corridor, is the county commissioner's room, 16 by 21. On the northeast corner, adjoining the county commissioners' room, is the county auditor's office, 21 by 22, with a public space 8 by 12. Adjoining the auditor's office is the vault, 12 by 25, provided with outside steel window shutters, finished the same as the vault doors. On the southwest corner, adjoining the commissioner's room, and right opposite the auditor's room is the county treasurer's room, with a vault adjoining 12 by 14. Off from the rotunda, opposite the main entrance, the county judge's room is located, which is about 21 by 24. Adjoining the same on the left hand side of the room, is the vault which is divided from the clerk of court's vault by an iron grating and is about 12 by 13. On the left hand side of the rotunda, at the end of the corridor, opposite the commissioner's room, an abstract and copy room is provided for, and is of the same size as the commissioner's room. On the northeast corner is located the register of deeds office of the same size as the auditor's office, with a vault adjoining 12 by 25, with outside light, and finished the same as the auditor's room. On the southeast corner is the office of the clerk of court, with a spacious vault. None of the county officials has been discriminated against as each room is exactly the same size, have the same number of windows and finished the same in every respect.
On the second floor of the east wing, the court room is located, which is 42 by 52, with a bay 5 by 20. This room receives light from the north and east sides. It has a very ornamental beam ceiling, and is highly decorated and elaborately finished. Back of the court room, on the south side, is the library and consultation room. Adjoining the court room, in the south projection, opposite the dome, are the district judges' chambers and office, with a private toilet room. Adjoining on the southwest corner are two jury rooms with private toilet rooms and ante room, cutting the dome off from the public corridors. In the center of the west wing there is a room provided for future grand juries, but which is at present occupied by the county superintendent of schools. In the northwest corner is a suite of rooms consisting of ante-room, private office and main public office and vault for the state's attorney, and adjoining that, right off from the public corridor and near the main stairway is a witness room.
The plumbing is up to date in every respect and is of the best quality that could be obtained.
The whole building is thoroughly ventilated by means of fresh air passing through and over indirect radiators carried into the various rooms, each room provided with ventilation registers carrying the foul air into vent ducts, connecting direct in the attic space and carried off through ventilators with aspirating coils in the dome.
The heating boilers are located in the Sheriff's residence and the steam pipes are carried through a tunnel into the court house. The entire system is provided with a vacuum system attached to a pump, thereby insuring absolute and perfect circulation as soon as a radiator is turned on.
The preceding description was taken from an old newspaper article dated 1910. The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.