Courthouse & Old Jail

In 1906 the Hudson River Lumber Company (Long-Bell) donated to the Methodist Church the two lots on the northeast corner of the present courthouse square. The Methodist church building was erected - a frame structure with a bell tower, a gabled roof, and high arched windows. The cornerstone was laid July 1, 1905, but a yellow fever epidemic prevented use of the new building until November of that year.

In 1912 DeRidder became the parish seat of newly formed Beauregard Parish when voters approved DeRidder as the location of the parish seat. Deridder received 663 votes, becoming the parish seat. Singer received 434 votes. On September 11 of that year, the church property was sold to the police jury so that a new courthouse and jail building could occupy the entire east half of the downtown block. The selling price was $7,500.

Colonel William Louis Stevens of New Orleans was selected to design the courthouse as well as the jail because he was renowned as a specialist in institutional architecture. Fall City Construction of Louisville, Kentucky, was the contractor that completed the two structures in 1914.

According to state historian Donna Fricker, Historic Preservation of the Louisiana Office of Tourism, during the early 1900's there was a period when opulence was often displayed in public buildings to symbolize the power of the governing authority. The building has buff-colored brick trimmed with white-glazed terra cotta and stone. It rests on a half-submerged basement podium which contains offices. The structure is topped by a large dome. The clock in the dome with its four faces, originally hand wound, has been converted to electric motors. Two-mercury weighted glass vials manipulate a bicycle chain pulley which operates the clock mechanism.

Overall, the courthouse reaches a height of six stories at the apex of the dome. The courthouse is entered through an octagonal lobby with axial corridors which run to the ends of the building. The Beauregard Parish Courthouse is locally significant as the architectural landmark of Beauregard Parish. It is easily Beauregard Parish's largest building, as well as the only example of a domed structure with classical details. It is also the only building in the parish with colossal order columns. It was placed on the National Register of Historical Properties on September 22, 1983.

There are few jail structures more distinctive than the one in DeRidder. It was built in 1914 in the Gothic Revival architecture style. It was built to house fifty or so prisoners. The first floor was used for quarters for the jailer and his family. The structure not only made history because of its unique design but also because there was a toilet, shower, lavatory, and a window in each cell. A large spiral staircase gave access to each cell. There was also an underground tunnel from the jail to the courthouse. The old jail is unique in structure. It has the possible distinction of being the only penal institution in the country using "collegiate gothic" design in the first decade of the 20th century. The jail was closed in 1982.

The famous jail is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.