Vancouver, WA Courthouse and Jail Fire, Feb 1890

A Jail and Courthouse Burned.

VANCOUVER, Washington, Feb. 25.---this morning the county courthouse and jail were totally destroyed by fire, together with most of the county records. The building was valued at $50,000 and insured for $25,000. The cause of the fire is unknown.

The Salt Lake Weekly Tribune, Salt Lake City, UT 27 Feb 1890


The County Auditor's records, which were in the courthouse destroyed by fire at Vancouver, Washington, have been found in good condition.

The Salt Lake Weekly Tribune, Salt Lake City, UT 7 Mar 1890


Clark County Courthouse Fire 1890

[The courthouse] was completed in 1883 at a cost of $44,000. Seven years later on February 25, 1890, it all went up in smoke.

It was a cold and windy night when fire broke out near midnight in the rear office of County Clerk Elwell's office and quickly spread to the front of the building and up the tower. Great pieces of burning wood fell off the building, which was consumed in less than an hour. Not even the foundation could be salvaged.

There were ten people asleep in the courthouse and five prisoners in the jail when the fire started. Luckily, all escaped harm. But a great many of the records were burned. Probate records dating back 40 years were destroyed, along with records of the Superior and District courts, Clark County Sheriff, Superintendent of Schools, and Surveyor. The loss of records, especially land claims, would make life difficult for county residents and courts for years to come.

Clark County Washington - Proud Past