In 1856, when Morrison County was established and organized, the county issued $8,000 in bonds to build a courthouse. By 1860, only one room could be used. Not until 1869, when bonds were called back and reissued, was the frame building completed.
The current courthouse was completed in 1891 and built in the Victorian Romanesque Revival style. It was designed by C.A. Dunham and built by Foster and Smith of Minneapolis at a cost of $55,000.
The courthouse is built with yellow brick on a rusticated gray granite foundation. Granite is also used for the trim. The brick, which came from a local kiln, forms a strong horizontal pattern. A four-story tower with a clock dominates the building's towers, gables, and chimneys and the roof is covered with slate shingles.
In the 1950s and again in 1969, citizen interest preserved the turreted and gabled courthouse. Citizens also decided that any additional space should be added by building annexes. In 1961, a flat, rectangular, two-story brick building with vertical bands of windows was added on the north at a cost of $187,519. In 1969, slightly more than $500,000 built a matching brick "projecting-drawer box" on the northeast corner of the square. A glass concourse connects the three.
Inside the 1891 building, fireplaces are faced with individually designed glazed tiles. Ornate brass hardware remains and stained glass squares set off the windows. Natural oak is used throughout the building and was restored in 1978.
The Morrison County Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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