The same year Le Sueur County was established -- 1853 -- the county's first grand jury convened in Peck and Bean's Boarding House in the village of Le Sueur. Its first indictment was against one of its own members for selling liquor to Native Americans. Judge A.G. Chatfield, founder of Belle Plaine, officiated.
The village of Le Sueur fought against Cleveland to be the county seat for the next 22 years. During this time, the boarding house burned and court convened above Myrick's Store and then on the second floor of the Smith Building, which was built in 1868 on the northwest corner of Ferry and Main. Sessions of court were also held in Cleveland until citizens compromised and made the new settlement of Le Center the county seat in 1875.
As part of Le Center's establishment as the county seat, two blocks of land were set aside for a courthouse square. A two-story brick building was leased by the county for 10 years with an option to purchase. The current courthouse, pictured above, was built on the site in 1896 and the old building, furniture, and fixtures were auctioned off to help pay for building expenses.
Louis M. Curry of the firm of Mayo & Curry of Chicago designed the building and James Dolan & Co. of Waterville built it at a cost of $55,000. The courthouse has buff-colored brick walls that are trimmed with both smooth and rusticated Kasota stone. The cornice and its supporting modillions are made of wood. The Richardsonian Romanesque Revival building is more symmetrical than usual, with a central bay flanked by side pavilions. A square tower rises two stories to a truncated hip roof. An octagonal drum with arched windows on top of that is crowned by a domical roof and the figure of Justice. The tower was originally one story taller but was damaged by lightning and rebuilt in 1920.
In the 1930s and in 1967, federal work projects remodeled the courtroom. Since a major renovation in 1975, the entire second floor has been devoted to court business. An original oak balustrade guards the central opening on the second floor of the rotunda.
The Le Sueur County Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
Historical information adapted from "The First 100 Years... The Minnesota State Bar Association."
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