O’Brien County was named for William Smith O'Brien, an Irish patriot.
O’Brien County’s first courthouse was a log cabin built in 1860 near the first resident of the county, and later moved to an area that later became Old O’Brien. It was used not just for courthouse business, but a school, blacksmith shop, residence, and stable.
A frame courthouse replaced the log cabin in 1870, but destroyed by fire in 1871. It was replaced with a similar building.
The county seat was moved to Primghar in 1873, and a two-story courthouse was built on the present courthouse square in 1874. This building was later condemned.
Following an attempt to move the county seat, a new courthouse was built in Primghar in 1887. An addition in 1902 was required to meet the growing county’s needs.
Today’s courthouse is a three-story Beaux Arts Neo-Classical design by Smith and Keffer. Completed in 1917, the courthouse is built using buff Bedford limestone. The O'Brien County courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
Visit the O'Brien County Economic Development web site for more information.
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