Decatur County was named in honor Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval officer in the war of 1812.
Decatur County’s first courthouse was a log structure built in 1851 in Decatur.
In 1853, the county seat moved to Independence (renamed Leon in 1855). A courthouse was started, but was destroyed in a windstorm prior to completion. In 1854, a two-story brick courthouse was built. A fire destroyed the courthouse in 1874, with only the contents in the treasurer’s safe surviving.
The third courthouse was built in 1875, a brick two-story Italianate structure. Burglars attempted to blast open the county’s safe with dynamite. Although the safe survived the explosion, the entire west side of the building was destroyed, and damaged the foundation.
Today’s courthouse, a three-story Renaissance and Georgian Revival design by Smith, Wetherell and Gage, was completed in 1908. The exterior is brick and stone; iron, steel, tile, marble and granite were used in the construction of the courthouse. The Decatur County courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
Visit the Decatur County Development Corporation web site for more information.
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