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Otter Tail County

Otter Tail County is named after Otter Tail Lake and Otter Tail River. The lake received its name from the Ojibway words for a long and narrow sand bar that was shaped like an otter’s tail.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Clay County and Becker County

E – Wadena County and Todd County

S – Douglas County and Grant County

W – Wilkin County and Clay County


Created:  March 18, 1858                       Map of Minnesota highlighting Otter Tail County

County Seat:

Otter Tail City  1868 – 1872

Fergus Falls    1872 – present


County Courthouse – Fergus Falls


Location:  121 West Junius Avenue / South Mill Street

Built:  1921 – 1922

Style:  Classical Revival

Architect:  Buechener and Orth of Saint Paul

Contractor:  L P Jorgenson


Description:  The building faces north and is a three story buff colored brick and concrete structure. The building is located on spacious landscaped grounds in the center of Fergus Falls. The foundation of the building is Bedford stone. The building is anchored by an entrance under a segmentally curved pediment. The two-story Ionic columns and flat pilasters rise to a cornice and parapet from the second story to the third story. The roof line is flat. In the interior there is a grand staircase and a central rotunda with murals and stained glass skylight. Decoration includes otters on each doorknob manufactured by Sargeant Lock Company. The main County District Court courtroom is located on the west side of the hird story and another courtroom is located along the south side. The building houses the County District Court of the 7th Judicial District. In 1962, an office annex was added on the east side. In 1972, the driveway between the buildings was eliminated and the two buildings were joined with an addition. In 2012 to 2014 a two story buff colored brick and concrete addition was constructed on the south side.  The architect was Shultz & Associates Architects and the contractor was Comstock Construction Inc.


See:  The architect Buechiner & Orth of St. Paul, Minnesota designed many courthouses.


See:  National; register of Historic Places – Otter Tail County Courthouse


See:  The 7th Judicial District includes Becker County, Benton County, Clay CountyDouglas CountyMille Lacs County, Morrison County, Otter Tail County, Stearns County, Todd County and Wadena County.


History:  The county was created in 1858 and Otter Tail City was designated as the county seat in 1868. The county seat was moved to Fergus Falls in 1872. The first courthouse was designed by E P Bassford and built by Stanford Brothers in 1880 and was destroyed by windstorms. The cost of construction in 1921 to 1922 of the second and present courthouse was $322,000.



County Courthouse – Fergus Falls







































Historic County District Court courtroom





















County Courthouse Annex – Fergus Falls







Master Courtroom













County Jail

Photos taken 2007, 2008, 2017, 2019 and 2023