Amid 1855 controversy about where the Houston County seat should be located, the county board's three members moved the official records overnight to Caledonia and kept them in the cabin of Commissioner Samuel McPhail. First court hearings were held there.
A one-story courthouse and jail was built in Caledonia in 1857. In spite of continued turmoil over the county seat, a two-story building was built in Caledonia in 1867 at a cost of $2,000 and the 1857 facility became the sheriff's residence. After several more votes, Caledonia prevailed as the county seat in 1874 and Houston County immediately started construction of the jail and sheriff's residence.
In 1882, it became apparent that a new courthouse was needed, causing yet another county seat disagreement. Caledonia again won the vote, however.
The current Houston County Courthouse, pictured above, was designed by Maybury and Sons of Winona and built by Noonan and Stellwager at a cost of $60,000. County taxes doubled as a result. The courthouse was completed in 1885. Five chandeliers and ornamental woodworking for the judges' courtroom cost $800 alone. Such costs were criticized as "unwarranted" by local citizens.
In 1965-66, an annex was added by Nelson Construction Co. of Caledonia at a cost of $41,140. In 1977, another larger addition was built to house county offices. Kratt, Meyer and Lachecki of LaCrosse built the limestone addition to match the Romanesque style courthouse. Following the $514,548 addition, the existing courthouse was remodeled at a cost of $274,992. The courtroom was moved to the opposite side of the building along with the original oak rail, judge's bench, clerk's desk, and jury box. Unused chimneys were also removed.
This picture shows the courthouse as it looked in 1910.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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