A crude one-story log cabin served as the first courthouse in Ottumwa. It was torn down after a short time to make room for a $1,000 courthouse, which was built in 1846. The first floor of this building was used to hold court sessions, religious services, dances, political meetings, and school. The second story was used as office space. It was destroyed by fire in 1872.
A later courthouse was built of brick. It was used until 1891 when it was torn down to make way for the present courthouse. This courthouse is made of rough-cut sandstone and measures about 101 by 94 feet. The Indian chief Wapello, heroically stands on a pedestal which rests upon a gable high above the main entry. The courthouse, which was built for $135,000, was dedicated in 1894.