Courthouse History

In the October 1855 session of Clinton County's Board of Supervisors, the question of moving the county seat from Dewitt to St. Johns first arose. One supervisor favored moving the county seat to St. Johns. Another said they should "strike out" St. Johns from the motion and insert "center of Muskrat Lake." no action was taken.

County Seat Moves

A year later, the St. Johns supervisor called for the move to his community, providing residents there made a one-and-one-half acre building site available. St. Johns residents raised $2,000 to help with the moving expenses. In December 1857, county offices were moved from Dewitt to Plumstead Hall at the northeast corner of Clinton Avenue and Walker Street in St. Johns.

In 1858, a 20- by 25-foot brick county building was erected on the northeast corner of the public square. County offices were housed there. Courts met at Plumstead Hall on the east side of Clinton Avenue, Newton Hall on East Walker, and the Hicks building on the west side of the second block of Clinton Avenue.

New Courthouse

In January 1869, supervisors discussed submitting a $25,000 building proposal to taxpayers. This was later approved 1,734 to 1,170. A building committee composed of William L. Hicks, George R. Hunt, Benjamin F. Shepherd, David Clark, Moses Bartow and John Hicks was appointed and given authority to enter into contracts.

In October, 1869, the committee adopted a plan similar to the Bay City, Michigan courthouse designed by Oliver Hidden. Foundation work contracts were awarded. The cornerstone laid in the fall of 1869, and the foundation was completed the next month.

On March 15, 1871 the courthouse dome was struck by lightening, tearing out the southeast corner completely and destroying all of the glass. Damage was estimated to be between $250 and $500.

The Committee's final report was issued on January 8, 1872: The whole amount appropriated for building a Court House was $36,000 as follows:
  • Village of St. Johns October 3, 1868 $5,000
  • Clinton County Jan 7, 1869 $25,000
  • Clinton County Oct 4, 1870 $1,000
  • Clinton County Jan 6, 1871 $5,000
Information Courtesy of the Clinton County Historical Society.
Artist Rendition of 1869 Courthouse
1890 Photograph Taken by O.J. Plunket