The Denver area, part of the Territory of Kansas, was virtually unsettled until the late 1850’s. In 1858, Green Russell and Sam Bates discovered the first significant gold discovery in the Rocky Mountain region. By spring 1859, tens of thousands of gold seekers arrived and the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush was under way.
On October 24, 1859, an election was held to form a provisional government for the goldfields. The formation of the provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson was approved. Robert Williamson Steele was elected Governor.
On February 28, 1861, President James Buchanan signed an Act of Congress organizing the free Territory of Colorado. On March 25, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed William Gilpin the first Governor of the Territory of Colorado. The Colorado General Assembly first met on September 9, 1861, and the legislature created 17 counties including a new Arapahoe County with Denver City as its seat. In 1865, Denver City became the Territorial Capital and shortened its name to just Denver.
On June 24, 1870, the Denver Pacific Railroad arrived in Denver, bringing a new era to the City. It brought residents, tourists, and much needed supplies. In the 1870’s, it is estimated that the railroad brought 100 new residents to Denver each day. Between 1870 and 1890 the city’s population increased from less than 5,000 to 100,000. On August 1, 1876, Colorado was admitted to the Union. After a state wide vote in 1881, Denver became the permanent state capital.
In the 1880’s silver was discovered in the nearby mountains, leading Denver to a new stage of opulence and beautiful architecture. In 1883, the first courthouse was built. The courthouse stood between 15th and 16th Street, and Tremont and Court. It was demolished in 1934.
The first courts in Denver were justice of the peace courts followed by Denver Municipal Court. In 1968 the Colorado Reform Act was passed and Denver County Court was created by this constitutional amendment which abolished justices of the peace and Denver Municipal Judges. The amendment provided that the Mayor of Denver appoint County Judges.
Arapahoe County Courthouse City and County Building Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse
The City and County Building, the current home of several County and District Court courtrooms, was built in 1932. The Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse was built in 2010.