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Big Stone County Courthouse History

Big Stone County is located at the edge of Big Stone Lake on the Western Minnesota border and is the headwaters of the Minnesota River.

Big Stone County was established on February 20, 1862 and consists of 497 square miles. The City of Ortonville is the county seat of Big Stone County. The 2000 population was 5820. Big Stone County is primarily an agricultural community.

When Big Stone County was established in 1862, it was attached to Renville County for judicial purposes.  From 1866-1873, Stevens County handled Big Stone's legal matters.  In 1873, the governor appointed county commissioners, and county officers were elected in 1874 and 1876 though there were only 85 families living in the area.  The process was later declared illegal and it was not until 1881 that official organization occurred.

The building that served as courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1885.  A store building was then used until a new building was built the following spring.  Insurance money paid for part of the $4,298 construction cost.  However, the three-story frame building was labeled inadequate from the start.

The current Big Stone County Courthouse was built in 1902, one year after the county issued construction bonds.  The building's light tan brick is accented with Ortonville granite in a transitional style between Romanesque, in the central arched doorway, and Classical formalism, shown in the arrangement of the windows.  The central pavilion, wide gable, and keystoned lintels of the windows carry out the theme.

Fremont D. Orff of Minneapolis designed the building, which was built by D.H. Olsen at a cost of $29,999.

Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."

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