Lake of the Woods County is the most recently established and organized county in the state, becoming Minnesota's 87th county in 1922. Prior to that, it was part of Beltrami County.
Lake of the Woods County's early court sessions were held wherever space was available, including at the Masonic Hall and the high school gymnasium. However, the building that would eventually become the county's first formal courthouse had its roots just after the turn of the century.
In 1906, the towns of Baudette and Spooner were consolidated into what is today Baudette. The county bought an empty school building and renovated it at a cost of $56,000. The three-story brick building was completed in 1909, just in time to be destroyed by a 1910 forest fire.
C.E. Wierske rebuilt the building the following year according to the original plan -- hip-roofed with rows of double-hung windows on the long faces of a rectangle. The building had a familiar school look with a Moorish gable of concave and convex curves above its central doorway pavilion. Two-story brick additions with glass block windows were added at the sides and rear of the building. It was converted into Lake of the Woods County Courthouse in 1954.
In 2001, the Lake of the Woods County Government center replaced the old courthouse. The structure's 21,684 square feet houses the courtroom and other government offices in a single level. It was built by Kraus-Anderson Construction Company of Bemidji and was financed and paid for by the county without a bond issue. In 2003, the county bought the adjacent former North Star Electric Company building to build the Government Center North, which houses additional government offices.
The first formal Lake of the Woods County Courthouse was an old school that dated back to the early 1900s. It was the only county in the state until 2001 whose courthouses were initially built for something else.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
Return to Lake of the Woods County District Court