Skip to content
Home » US States » M » Minnesota » Watonwan County

Watonwan County

Watonwan County is named for the Watonwan River which name comes from the Dakota word “watanwan” meaning “where fish bait abounds”.


Surrounding Courthouses: 

N – Brown County

E – Blue Earth County

S – Martin County

W – Cottonwood County 


Created:  February 25,1860                   Map of Minnesota highlighting Watonwan County

County Seat:

Madelia     1860 – 1878

St. James  1878 – present


County Courthouse – St. James


Location:  710 2nd Avenue South / 7th Street South

Built:  1895 – 1896

Style:  Richardsonian Romanesque Revival

Architect:  H C Gerlach

Contractor:  Otto Kleinschmidt of Mankato


Description:  The building faces north and is a two story red colored brick and Indiana limestone structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of St. James. The building has asymmetric features, towers and pavilions. Marble pillars at the front support three arches of limestone. The roof is hipped. The interior has fireplaces in some offices, tile floors in the corridors, and red colored oak wainscoting, trim, stairways, counters, and furniture. The hallways are of rust and white polished tile. The second story County District Court courtroom had a recessed dome with large chandelier. The building houses the County District Court of the 5th Judicial District. The building was remodeled in 1950. Additions were added in 1972 and 1981.On the northeast side is the Courthouse Annex.


See:  National Register of Historic Places – Watonwan County Courthouse


Second County Courthouse – Madelia




Location:  30 West Main Street / Abbott Avenue SW

Built:  1872 – 1873

Style:  Commercial

Architect:  Joseph Flanders

Contractor:  Joseph Flanders


Description:  The building faces north and is a two story buff colored brick structure. The building is located in the center of Madelia. The north front has large arched windows on the first story and smaller arched windows on the second story. The roof line is flat. The building served as the second county courthouse from 1872 to 1874 and the courtroom was located on the second story..


See:  National Register of Historic Places – Flanders Block – Madelia


See:  The 5th Judicial District includes Blue Earth County, Brown County, Cottonwood CountyFaribault County, Jackson County, Lincoln County, Lyon CountyMartin County, Murray CountyNicolett CountyNobles CountyPipestone County, Redwood County and Rock County


History:  The county was created in 1860 and Madelia was selected as the county seat. The first courthouse was a frame structure built in 1861. The courthouse burned in 1872 and the county leased the Flanders Block built in 1872 as the second courthouse, which building is still standing. The county seat was moved to St. James in 1874 and the third courthouse, a wood frame structure, was erected on land donated by the railway. The fourth and present courthouse was constructed in 1895 to 1896 at a cost of $33,000.



County Courthouse – St. James























County District Court courtroom











County Courthouse Annex – St. James





Second County Courthouse – Madelia







Photos taken 2008, 2012, 2017 and 2024