A Fort Dodge construction firm received a contract for a schoolhouse and courthouse in 1859. They were to build the first courthouse in Estherville. The school house was completed and the construction on the courthouse was in progress before the contractors learned that they could not be paid. The courthouse was never finished and the schoolhouse was moved to a new location where it was used as a courthouse. It was destroyed by fire in 1876.
The county seat was moved to Swan Lake in 1879, but no courthouse was ever built there. The county seat was then relocated to Estherville, where in 1884, the building of a courthouse was contracted for $11,718. This building was completed in 1884.
The present modern brick courthouse was built for $374,109.90. It was dedicated in September of 1958.