Organized in 1861, Storey County is named after Captain Edward Storey who died during the 1860 Pyramid Lake War. Virginia City has always been the county’s seat of government. Officials initially operated from a variety of structures, the last of which stood on B Street, one block above the main commercial corridor. The Great Fire of 1875 destroyed this building and many of its records.
The county commission employed Kenitzer and Raun of San Francisco to design a replacement courthouse. Completed in 1877 for roughly $117,000, it was the most costly courthouse in Nevada until the completion of the Washoe County facility in 1911. Storey County’s two-story Italianate structure includes a two-tier jail, a spacious courtroom, and large iron-sheathed vaults for records. Its facade combines fine brick and ornate iron details.
The courthouse’s statue of Justice is the only one to grace the exterior of a Nevada building. The full-sized, zinc figure came from New York and cost $236 including shipping. Local folklore maintains it is one of two or three in the nation without a blindfold, presumably because the Wild West needed Justice to pursue crime vigorously. In fact, Justice with eyes exposed was a common option in the nineteenth century, and over twenty examples survive throughout the country.