[ History of Kane County ]

The courthouses are built...

First home of county offices - Herrington's TavernIn 1837 the County offices were moved out of Herrington's Tavern into a new Courthouse on the corner of 4th and State Streets in Geneva. Total construction cost for this Courthouse was $3,000. Seven years later Kane County had outgrown these quarters and a new Courthouse, constructed of quarry stone, was built on the site of the present Geneva City Hall on Rt. 31.

Overcrowding in the jail and the Courthouse soon created a need for a newer and larger building, and in 1854 bids were let for construction at the site of the present Courthouse on 3rd Street in Geneva. Disputes with the contractor over completion dates and workmanship prevented the building from being occupied until 1857.

Third Kane County courthouseThe new Courthouse was a magnificent structure, considered the most important architectural monument in Kane County. It was designed by John M. Van Osdel, one of Chicago's leading architects. The ornate, three-story limestone building was capped with a large cupola which became a favorite valley vantage point.

On the night of March 13, 1890, Kane County lost one of its most prized buildings when the Courthouse burned. Fortunately, the records of the recorder, County Clerk, and the Circuit Clerk were locked in fireproof vaults and not damaged.

For the next two years, the County rented a house at 2nd and Campbell Streets in Geneva for $30 a month in order to conduct County business. The clerks crowded into the various rooms and the judges held court in the dining room.

Fourth Kane County courthouseThe Kane County Board commissioned Chicago architects W. J. Edbrooke and Franklin P. Burnham to design the new Courthouse and jail. The massive 4-story Courthouse which stands today is still regarded as one of the finest in Illinois. The original construction cost was $195,000. The square dome rises high above the rotunda. Decorative ironwork railings encircle each floor and eleven murals, depicting various scenes from the County, are painted on the arches of the 4th floor.

Soon the County Board was faced with problems in the County jail. The 1892 facility had come under attack for being "totally inadequate" and having "deplorable conditions." In June of 1972, construction was authorized on the new jail, called the Kane County Corrections Complex, located on Fabyan Parkway in Geneva. The new institution cost 3 million dollars.

With the continued growth of Kane County, the Courthouse was also crowded and the County had been forced to rent a number of downtown homes for additional office space. In November of 1972, the County purchased the Sacred Heart Seminary on Rt. 31 in Geneva. Remodeling began and by spring of 1975, all County administrative offices had moved to the site, called the Kane County Government Center.

In September, 1975, the County Board empowered the Public Building Commission to refurbish the Courthouse and convert the vacated administrative offices into space for the Circuit Court and Clerk. Subsequent growth of the County in the 1980's required the acquisition of the former Sixth Street School to house the Family Court and the rental of space in the former Campana building on Rt. 31 and Fabyan Parkway for the offices of the Circuit Clerk.

Kane County Judicial CenterThe County continued to rapidly grow, and once again the 1892 Courthouse became exceedingly crowded. In 1991 the County Board approved the construction of the Kane County Judicial Center to be located on Route 38 in St. Charles. The Judicial Center was opened in October of 1993.


Kane County, Illinois

Page modified 04 Apr 2005