Step into the past at the longest standing courthouse in the state of Minnesota! The Washington County Historic Courthouse in Stillwater served as the county seat more than 100 years. Now a Washington County Park, our Historic Courthouse is open daily, offering school programs, field trips, exhibits, guided tours and more!
Located high on the bluffs on Zion’s Hill, overlooking downtown Stillwater, the Washington County Historic Courthouse is the oldest standing courthouse in Minnesota. Construction began in 1867 and was completed three years later. The building is preserved today as a snapshot of the era, containing a stately courtroom, offices, 1900 jail a stately courtroom, and the sheriff’s residence.
In the early 1960’s, the building was nearly demolished and replaced with a modern government center on the site. A grassroots group of citizens banded together and succeeded in twice defeating the bond issue, and an alternate location for the new government center was found. In 1971, the Historic Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest standing courthouse in Minnesota. Today, the Historic Courthouse is a significant asset for the community not only as a symbol of the St. Croix Valley and a tourist attraction, but as an important community gathering place.
The building has since been restored, creating a space that can be used for both public and private functions. Now a Washington County Park, the building is open to the public seven days a week and serves as a historic site, archives, and community gathering place. Guided tours, exhibits, school & scout programs are just a few of its offerings.
The Historic Courthouse offers a wide variety of activities, tours, and programs for school groups of all sizes. Tours and programs can be easily customized to fit your class curriculum and topics may include; early Minnesota state history, Washington County history, women and the law, early life in the St. Croix Valley, architecture, and more.
Take advantage of fun, history-based activities, including: mock trials, scavenger hunts, playing the past, create a cartoon, Interactive biography boxes & timelines, and historic homes walking tours. The Historic Courthouse also features a new temporary exhibit every year with additional program opportunities. Schools also have the opportunity to use the courtroom or grounds for lunch. Tours and programs are offered for a small fee of $2.00 per student, chaperones are free. Combine a trip to the Historic Courthouse with a visit to other historic sites nearby for a full day of celebrating history!