Hatteberg's People - Harold Seipel

By: Larry Hatteberg Email
By: Larry Hatteberg Email

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It is always a milestone when a Kansas courthouse hits 100 years old. That’s happening next Saturday in Anthony when the Harper County Courthouse reaches the century mark. For 50 of those years, Harold Seipel has been the man who has helped keep the building ageless. He is the courthouse custodian.

She’s a pretty thing, the Harper County Courthouse. In the chill of an autumn morning, Lady Justice of Greek mythology fame presides over the century old building. And so does Harold Seipel, as he has done for the past 50 years.

“I feel the old building is good for another 100 years.”

And he should know. For five decades he has remodeled, repaired, painted, and cleaned this old building, saving it from those who thought new was better.

“It had old wood floors and stuff like that and it really wasn’t attractive.”

He’s talking about this old courtroom, which could be a Hollywood movie set right out of the 1920’s. Its architecture, along with its character and charm has all been saved.

“Being on the historical register, too, we didn’t try to change anything if we could keep from it.”

Just take a look around this courtroom…..

The way the light falls on the old radiators that still work. The circular lights that shine like pearls. The well-worn chairs that if they could speak, would talk of cigars, of cowboy hats and of time gone by.

“The building is history and that’s the feeling we want to keep with the people too.”

Harold Seipel knows every shiny inch of this courthouse. It has been his life and everyone in this town knows it.

“I enjoy getting up and coming to work every morning. When I get up I don’t have to make myself go to work or know what I’m going to do today. I just enjoy doing the work.”

(Clock sounds)

But it is up these stairs that may be his favorite part of the courthouse, the old Seth Thomas clock in continuous operation since 1909.

“It got to be my weekly habit; I wind it once a week.”

(clock sounds)

“That’s it.”

Time surrounds everything in this place. But men wind down and so it is with Bill.

“I want to look at it like I’ve done my job….yeah, it’s 50 years…the whole place is one big family.”

(music close)

Harold may retire soon, but Next Saturday everyone can join in Harper County’s centennial celebration of the old Courthouse. Festivities begin at 9 a.m. at the Courthouse in Anthony.

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