The Cortez City Council has added the Montezuma County Courthouse to the city of Cortez Register of Historic Structures, Sites and Districts.
Both the original 1937 structure and the 1960 addition qualify as historic structures. Cortez Associate Planner Neva Connolly said buildings must be at least 50 years old to qualify for the city register, meaning buildings from the 1960s are now considered historic.
“We’re just getting so old,” Connolly said at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Mayor Karen Sheek said the original building was part of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration program.
In 1936, Montezuma County received a $29,250 grant from the WPA, which the county matched with about $30,000 in local funds. The WPA also funded a library, swimming pool and school expansion in Cortez around that time.
According to an architectural inventory of the courthouse, the building has been “the political and governmental center of Montezuma County” since it opened in 1937. It replaced an earlier courthouse on the corner of First and Chestnut streets.
By the late 1950s, the county began to outgrow the building and an expansion was planned. According to Cortez Journal archives, construction bids opened in 1959, and a $326,000 contract was awarded to McGechie Construction. Construction lasted about one year, and the new wing opened Jan. 3, 1961.
The Montezuma County Courthouse is the 50th building to be added to the Cortez Register of Historic Structures, Sites and Districts since it was created in 2011. In November, the council added Slaves True Value Hardware, Main Street Brewery and Restaurant, Brand Central and the Calkins and Merlo House.