After the county seat was moved three times, the citizens of Dakota County finally organized their government in Hastings and built the first courthouse in 1870 at a cost of $95,000. The two-story red brick and stone building sits on a square block within East Third, East Fourth, Sibley, and Vermillion Streets.
Designed by A.M. Radcliffe in the Italian Villa style, the courthouse has four symmetrical facades. The central bay is pedimented and projects slightly from the face of the building. Corners are defined by two-and-one-half story mansard-roofed towers. White brush-hammered limestone was used for the foundation and window hoods. Keystone arches over windows, bracketed cornices, and a central cupola are also included. The north entry features a portico with paired fluted Corinthian columns.
In 1912, the original cupola was removed and replaced by a larger domed circular cupola in the Renaissance Revival style. At the same time, the corner towers were re-roofed without dormers. An addition on the west side of the courthouse was completed in 1955. The courthouse, pictured below, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
In 1974, Dakota County moved its court and other offices to the present $4 million Dakota County Government Center. The 98,000 square foot building includes a three-level atrium and sky-lit lobby. Four large chrome-plated ducts rise from the mechanical room in the basement through the open lobby to the third floor. Its dark, mulberry-toned jumbo brick contrasts with exposed reinforced concrete inside and out.
This photograph shows the courthouse as it looked in 1950.
This 1878 photo shows the Dakota County Courthouse as it looked when it was first built eight years prior.
The original cupola, seen in the picture above, was replaced by a larger domed circular cupola in 1912.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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