In 1849, a log courthouse was built in Monumental Square in the city of Winterset. This building also served as a school, church, and resting spot for travelers.
A second courthouse was built of stone with a jail on the second floor. In 1875, a fire destroyed the building in less than four hours.
The present courthouse was built in 1876, in the precise center of the county. The structure has four wings which join to form a Greek cross. A silver-colored dome atop the center of the roof stretches 136 into the air and houses a 1500-pound bell. The exterior was designed in Italianate-Revival-Classic style and the interior displays woodwork of solid walnut. The total cost of the building was about $120,000. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.