In early 1853, Clarinda was selected as the seat of justice in Page County. The county judge had a building erected for county business, but the building and the records were destroyed in an 1858 fire.
A two-story frame courthouse had been erected before the fire, in 1856. This building was immediately put to use, but soon became inadequate. Court was then held in churches and schoolhouses. In 1873, a very simple courthouse was built in Clarinda's town square for $7,456.
The foundation was laid for a much grander courthouse in 1885. The price of this building would be $71,000, but the addition of heating equipment, fixtures, furnishings, and art work brought the total bill to $86,500. After a fire in 1991, this courthouse was repaired and remodeled. It looks today much as it did over 100 years ago. Only the clock and spire have been removed.