On June 12, 1837, President Sam Houston authorized the formation of Houston County, the first newly created county in the Republic of Texas. Andrew W. Gossett (1812-1890) donated land, which included this square, for the townsite. He and his father, Elijah, both veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto, named the county for Sam Houston, and the county seat for David Crockett, a former Tennessee friend.
The first county courthouse, a log structure which served as a fortress during Indian attacks, was in use at this location by 1838. A brick building, which replaced the first courthouse in 1851, was destroyed by a fire of mysterious origin in 1865. County business was conducted in the L.E. Downes building on the southwest corner of the square until a two-story frame structure was finished in 1869. A jail addition burned in 1871 while it was under construction. The third courthouse and jail burned in 1882.
The fourth courthouse, completed at this site in 1883, was razed in 1938. While this three-story structure was under construction, county business was conducted in the Crockett Hotel. In 1975 the third-floor jail was moved to a separate building and the fifth Houston County courthouse was remodeled.