Until 1871, Kanabec County was attached to Chisago County for judicial purposes and then to Pine County until 1881. At that time, Kanabec was detatched and organized. The first and only court term at Brunswick, Kanabec's county seat at the time, was held in 1882.
In the general election of that year, Mora won the title of county seat. A wooden courthouse was built there at a cost of $4,200 in 1883. Eleven years later, the courthouse burned.
Citizens were anxious to build a solid brick, fireproof building after the March fire. About a month later, on April 10, 1894, an architect from Buechner and Jacobson of St. Paul presented plans for a new courthouse to the county commissioners. Charles Skoglund won the contract with a bid of $7,200.
In 1937, space was added to the east side of the building at a price of $36,000, more than half paid by the federal government. The addition completed the three stories that were part of the original design.
A blocky extension on the south reaching half-way up the old building contains two modern stories. Though it was built with the same buff-colored brick, no effort was made to blend it in with the original building. The addition was designed by Fred Wemlinger of St. Cloud and was completed in 1974 at a cost of $219,628. Another $58,579 has since been spent modernizing the building.
The courthouse, pictured below, is a light brick, Romanesque Revival building, trimmed with brown sandstone and rising from a rubble stone foundation. The building has no basement because it was eliminated as a cost-cutting measure during the 1894 construction. The windows and entry are arched, a row of corbelled brick marks the eaves, and tourelles accentuate the corners of the peaked square central tower that rises four stories.
Inside, courtrooms and judges' chambers occupy the second floor. A staircase on the right as one enters has the original spool balusters of oak. Hardwood floors have also be refinished and birght rugs are placed at each entry.
The courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
The first courthouse in Mora was built in 1883 and used until it burned in March, 1894.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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