The Old Courthouse was used for county business until 1962, when a new courthouse was built to the west of this beautiful old building. When it was discovered that the courthouse was slated for demolition to make room for a parking lot, local citizens worked to save the building. Today, it serves as a museum and recently joined with the Pettigrew Home and Museum to become the Siouxland Heritage Museums. The museum offers three floors of public exhibit space that provide a colorful look at the region’s history. The second floor features the restored circuit courtroom and law library.
Construction began on the first Minnehaha County Courthouse in 1889. The building is a product of local architect Wallace L. Dow, who designed many local buildings including the South Dakota State Penitentiary, the All Saints School, and the Thomas B. McMartin home (now the Pettigrew Home and Museum). The building is constructed of native Sioux Quartzite stone, a popular local building material of the late 19th century. When completed in 1893, Dow claimed the structure would be the “largest courthouse between Chicago and Denver.”
Interior courthouse features include slate stairs, granite pillars, stained glass windows, and tiled fireplaces. Perhaps one of the most striking features of the building is the 16 large murals on the walls of the hallways painted between 1915 and 1917. Painted by Norwegian immigrant Ole Running, the murals detail early life in Dakota, natural features, and images of his home in Norway. Running was paid $500 for his work on the walls of the building.