Cerro Gordo County is named after the location of a battle in the Mexican War. At this site General Winfield Scott defeated General Santa Ana of the Mexican army on April 18, 1847.
In 1851 the first white settlers came to the county, settling at Clear Lake. Four years later, August 7, 1855, the first county elections were held. Closely following these elections was the appointment of three locating commissioners. These commissioners located the county seat at Mason City, which was first called Shibboleth and later Masonic Grove.
The first court was held in Mason City in 1857. It was short-lived because in the summer of 1857 the county seat was moved to Livonia. A new courthouse was built there, and the county records and offices were soon located at this small town. This too was short-lived, because in April, 1858, Mason City won back the county seat in an election. Following this the county erected a $600 stone courthouse in Mason City. Built in 1866, this building was used until 1900, when it was abandoned. In 1902 a second courthouse of native stone was completed. Like its predecessor, it lasted a long time — from 1902 until 1960 when it was torn down.
The present Cerro Gordo courthouse was first used on November 17, 1960. The building, purchased from the Standard Oil Company, was remodeled, and an addition was completed at that time to make a 49,000 square-foot building. That $750,000 project was financed through a bond. There was another addition in 1978 to create the current building as it stands now.
In 1999 the county purchased a building located on the block across the street from the current courthouse. This became known as the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Department Annex. The Department began housing prisoners in the annex in June 2000.
Source: Colleen Pearce, Cerro Gordo County Recorder, 2002