201 First Street NE
Austin , MN
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The first courthouse to be built in Austin was completed in 1868, 11 years after Austin became the county seat of Mower County. The building cost $6,450.
Eleven years later, the village of Ramsey made an unsuccessful attempt to secure the county seat. This may have led to the next Mower County Courthouse, built in Austin in 1884. The building, shown above in 1914, was three stories of red brick built over a high limestone basement in the Italianate style. A turreted Roman Renaissance and narrow dome rose above the central pavilion, whose one-story columned portico was approached by a grand flight of stairs. The building cost $64,817.
Additions in 1952 and 1966 eventually became the courthouse and the old building was demolished. The additions are flat, rectangular, two-story buildings made of pink Kasota limestone and gray Bedford stone from Indiana. The first section, 59 by 121 feet, has deep horizontal bands of windows on a long facade along the east side of the block. The 1966 section, with square windows randomly placed, is slightly larger and is perpendicular to the first with its narrow end to the east. A glass-fronted lobby, which acts as a connecting concourse, was recessed between.
In 1975, a one-story, city-county law enforcement center was added directly behind the width of this lobby. A remodeling project and addition, completed in the late 1990s, added courtroom, court administration, and law enforcement office space and changed the look of the main entrance.
Current view of the Mower County Government Center.
- Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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