The site of the Iron County Courthouse was finally settled following a series of mischievous manipulation and political intrigue back in 1888. The temporary county seat, Iron River, had been established in 1885 when Iron County was severed off from Marquette County. Minutes reveal the last meeting in Iron River was held February 15, 1887. Subsequent voting for courthouse location was held in April 1888 and records reveal 2193 votes were cast - 1142 for Crystal Falls, 1051 for Iron River.
A building committee was formed in February 1890 and members reported it would be necessary to raise the sum of $30,000. In April voters authorized the board to issue bonds and in June bids were let. Work was begun shortly after July 4th by contractor Louis A. Webber.
The cornerstone of the building was laid in September 1890 and be November the walls of the building were completed on the second story and part of the roof was on. In May 1891 the 17 foot high statues of Law, Mercy and Justice were put into place on the front of the building. The columns flanking the front entrance were quarried from local stone and were not installed until later.
Interior work was continued in 1891. The pressed metal court room ceiling, the ornate plaster wall designs, acanthus leafed Corinthian columns with winged dragons and muses
looking down from above, the cast iron decorated support for the chandelier and the chandelier itself alone made the building the "Jewel of Iron County." The graceful stairs with the pointed newel posts and the carved floral detail of the door casings were additional details of beauty.
The tower clock with four faces was not installed until almost twenty years later. The clock was wound weekly by hand until the 1940's when it was electrified. The largest weight for the striker weighs a half ton. The bell can be heard over 4 miles away on a clear day.
J.C. Clancy, a well known architect in the Mid-West, designed the Richardsonian Romanesque-Style Iron County Courthouse. It is characterized by its high-pitched roof, high windows, deeply arched doorways and a clock tower. A special feature, the decorative statuary of Law, Mercy and Justice was also added.
The courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places Feb. 24, 1975 and was dedicated in 1977. It is also part of the National Historic District consisting of nearly 50 contributing structures.