A double log cabin made of cottonwood logs served as the first courthouse in Adel from 1848 to 1853. A second courthouse was later erected and used until 1858 when a third courthouse was built in the center of the square. When finished this brick building was two stories high and measured about 64 by 42 feet. The total cost was approximately $20,000.
Near the turn of the century, another courthouse was authorized. This fourth, and present courthouse, which was modeled after a French castle, is made of Bedford stone. The top of the tower is 128 feet high and there are statues of the Goddess of Justice at the main entrances. This building was proudly dedicated in September of 1902 before a crowd of 2,000 people. It cost $109,243 to build. In addition, there is a $1,000 clock that rests in the tower.
The courthouse has undergone extensive renovation in recent years. All of the courtrooms and hallways have been repainted in their original colors. New light fixtures were specially made to match the wrought iron of the Grand Stair Case. The rotunda was also completely restored. The district courtroom is in the process of being refurbished. An $80,000 effort to restore the magnificent artwork on the ceiling will be the final stage of that project. The majestic building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.