Farrell Block

The Farrell Block, or Stone Block, designed by architect C. C. Rittenhouse, was built in 1880 by Thomas Farrell, using sandstone from his Colorado quarries. It is the oldest building in downtown Hastings and the city's only surviving stone commercial building. The outstanding architectural feature of this building is its metal cornice. The original building was twice its present size; the east half, which contained the State Theater, was destroyed by fire in 1953.

The second story of the east half contained a large hall that served as offices for Adams County government from 1880 until 1890 when the courthouse was completed. Also in the second story was the Adams County jail. The March, 1883 robbery and murder of Hastings grocer, Cass Millett, resulted in the county's only lynching. A mob stormed the jail, and marched three prisoners, ropes around their necks, to the St. Joseph and Grand Island Railroad bridge. There, attorney Charles Dietrich gave an impassioned speech which saved the life of eighteen year old John Babcock. The other two prisoners, Fred Ingraham and James Green, were hanged. This incident brought fame to Dietrich and aided his political career. The following morning, Judge William Gaslin viewed the scene and was heard to remark, "Well there's one verdict the damned Supreme Court won't reverse."

This building also witnessed the only murder in an Adams County courtroom. In March 1887, a Dr. Randall was being tried for the rape of a child in his care. During his trial, a shot rang out and Dr. Randall fell dead with a bullet between the eyes. A coroner's jury declared the death a "Visitation of Providence" and Dr. Randall was buried in Potter's Field. No one was ever prosecuted for the murder.

The Farrell Block, a visual reminder of Hastings' pioneer period, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thomas Farrell Thomas Farrell