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Big Stone County

Big Stone County is the named for Big Stone Lake located in the county and is the translation of the Dakota Native American name for the lake, which alludes to the large outcropping of granite near the foot of the lake.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Traverse County

E – Stevens County and Swift County

S – Lac Qui Parle County

W – Grant County, South Dakota and Roberts County, South Dakota


Created:  February 20, 1862                  Map of Minnesota highlighting Big Stone County

County Seat:

Ortonville  1881 – present


County Courthouse – Ortonville


Location:  20   2nd Street SE / Lincoln Avenue

Built:  1901 – 1902

Style:  Gothic between Romanesque and Classical

Architect:  Fremont D Orff of Minneapolis

Contractor:  OLe H Olsen of Stillwater


Description:  The building faces west and is a three story light tan colored brick and concrete structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds on a hill in the center of Ortonville. five foot tall rock-faced purple granite retaining wall runs along the front of the building. The building is accented with Ortonville granite in a transitional style between Romanesque, in the central arched doorway, and Classical formalism, shown in the arrangement of the windows. The central pavilion, wide gable and key-stoned lintels of the windows carry out this theme. The roof is hipped. In the interior is a dramatic central rotunda that rises from the first floor to the peak of the roof. The ceiling of the rotunda contains an eight-sided dome-like vault with eight curving stained glass panels and an octagonal stained glass occulus. Beneath the base of the vault are four tall rounded arches supporting an embellished plaster entablature. The building retains maple flooring, oak woodwork and original furnishings, brass fixtures, and a large oak staircase with turned balusters. The second story County District Court courtroom has original oak furniture, plaster medallions on the ceiling, and Art Deco light fixtures. The building houses the County District Court of the 8th Judicial District.


See:  The architect, Fremont D Orff, designed courthouses in Minnesota in Red Lake County, Renville County and Waseca County; and in Nebraska in Wayne County.


See:  National Register of Historic Places – Big Stone County Courthouse


See:  The 8th Judicial District includes Chippewa CountyGrant County, Kandiyohi CountyLac Qui Parle CountyMeeker County, Pope CountyRenville County, Stevens CountySwift CountyTraverse County, Wilkin County and Yellow Medicine County.


History:  The county was created in 1862 and Ortonville was selected as the county seat in 1881 when the county was organized.  From 1862 to 1866, the county was attached to  Renville County and from 1866 to 1873, it was attached to Stevens County for judicial purposes. The local building used as the first courthouse from 1873 was destroyed by fire in 1885. The second courthouse was built in 1886 at a cost of $4,298. The third and present courthouse was constructed in 1901 to 1902 at a cost of $29,999.



County Courthouse – Ortonville
































County District Court courtroom











Photos taken 2007, 2008, 2017 and 2024