By Nevada Lifestyle Lincoln County Magazine 2024 Edition

The Pioche Courthouse, also referred to as the Old Lincoln County Courthouse and the first Lincoln County Courthouse, was famously named the “Million Dollar Courthouse.” In Pioche, Nevada, the courthouse incurred costs that far exceeded the original estimates, resulting in the issuance and refinancing of bonds totaling nearly $1 million. The ultimate cost, including finance charges and fiscal mismanagement, amounted to over $800,000 in 1872 dollars. It wasn’t until the construction of the new courthouse that the county’s debt was finally paid off in 1938.

Initially, the budget for the courthouse project was set at $26,000. However, due to a breached construction contract, the building was completed through separate contracts at a significantly higher total cost. To cover other county obligations related to the courthouse project, the county issued a $75,000 bond and relied on quantities of scrip. As mining in the county declined, tax assessments fell, and the county failed to keep up with interest charges.

No payments were made towards the principal amount. In the 1880s, an attempt to repudiate the debt failed. Eventually, in 1907, the Nevada legislature devised a plan to redeem 65% of the outstanding obligation, with Clark County assuming some of the debt.

Clark County was newly formed in 1909 from the southern part of Lincoln County. The debt was finally paid off in 1938, coinciding with the construction of the new courthouse.

By 1872, the courthouse was already considered unstable and deteriorating. Despite its neglected state, it remained abandoned for almost forty years before being restored in the 1970s and repurposed as a local history museum. The architectural design of the courthouse, conceived by T. Dimmock and Thomas Keefe, showcases an Italianate style with a brick front and rubble stone masonry sides and rear. Positioned on a hill in the rear, the jail is accessible from the second floor. Recognized for its historical significance, the courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Million Dollar Courthouse
69 Lacour St.
Pioche, NV 89043
(775) 962-5207

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