Aroostook County-Caribou, MaineImage of Aroostook County-Caribou Courthouse

The following excerpt is reprinted by permission from The Courthouses of Maine, Robert K. Sloane, Senior Editor.

The County Courthouse

Sessions for the Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou were authorized in 1885.  The first sessions of the court were held in Clark’s Hall, with Judge Robinson presiding.  Clark’s Hall was a three story wooden building at the corner of Main and Sweden Streets.  On the firs floor were two stores.  On the second floor were law offices.  The third floor of the building was a hall where for many years gatherings of all kinds—plays such as “ Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” public dances, dance schools, town meeting—were held.  It was in this hall that the first court in Caribou convened. 

The legislature transferred jurisdiction of the Superior Court to the Supreme Judicial Court in 1893, and provided that “ the county of Aroostook should furnish proper and convenient rooms and accommodations in the Town of Caribou for the use of the Supreme Judicial Court.”  Terms for the Supreme Court were set for the fourth Tuesday of April and the third Tuesday of September at Houlton for civil and criminal business at Caribou the first Tuesday in December for civil business alone.  For the next tow years, the Supreme Judicial Court sat in Clark’s Hall. 

The courthouse in Caribou was designed by Wilfred Manusur in 1895.  The building has a facade with three arches and a large triangular pediment above the second story.  This design may have been a precursor to the architect’s plan for the Bangor/Penobscot County Courthouse, constructed eight years later.

There was considerable difficulty in finding a lot that suited everyone, but the deadlock was broken when Lyman Stevens offered to give the town where the courthouse was built.  Constructing the courthouse, the first brick building in town, cost $21, 000 for the building and its furnishings.  It was built during the summer of 1895 and occupied by the December term of court.  The Caribou courthouse was expanded by an addition in 1975, which provided for county offices, judge’s chambers and a large new law library.