Shortly after Itasca County was organized for business in 1891, a small frame courthouse was built near the Mississippi River, a block south of the current courthouse.
In 1894, just east of the old site, a two-story brick Renaissance Revival courthouse with no less than eight chimneys and balanced peaks was built at a cost of $46,704, joining a jail that had been built a year prior. The courthouse is pictured above in 1908.
Voters turned down a bond issue in 1940 that would have replaced these buildings that were declared "unsafe" and "beyond repair." The problem apparently resulted from building it on unstable ground too close to the river. War halted further thought of replacing the building until 1947, when a grand jury said: "The building is a definite fire trap, and in the event of a fire, no doubt all the county records would be destroyed." In 1948, voters were persuaded to pass a $500,000 bond issue to build a new courthouse.
The present-day courthouse opened for business in 1951. The rectangular block building is made from cream-colored Mankato stone neatly trimmed with Cold Spring rainbow granite. It has three horizontal rows of windows. A central, slightly recessed entrance is built with glass reaching all three stories.
Jyring & Jurenes from Hibbing designed the building and H.L. Stavn, Inc. of Hibbing built it at an initial cost of $840,000. A floor was added in 1969 to the west end and two additional floors were built in 1978. Construction of a law enforcement center and the remodeling of the existing jail, all connected to the courthouse, began in 1982.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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