Howard County was organized in 1855 and the county judge decided that Vernon Springs would be the best location for the first county seat. However, later that same year the same judge ordered that all the county records and courts be moved to Howard Center.
The community of New Oregon entered the battle for the county seat and eventually a committee chose Pikes Peak, which was half way between Vernon Springs and New Oregon, to be the county seat. Both cities accepted this decision and cooperated in building a courthouse in 1859.
When it was time for a new courthouse, Cresco made a bid to build it and the county supervisors accepted the bid. The newly constructed courthouse burned down in 1876 so a new one was built in 1879. This structure was put up in the center of town and serves as the present home of county government. It was designed in Italianate-Classic style and made of red and buff colored brick. Two additions were constructed in 1964.