Lexington’s first three courthouses occupied the site and were torn down or burned down. The fourth courthouse to occupy the site is the one that remains today.
The current courthouse was designed by Lehman and Schmitt, an architectural firm based in Cleveland Ohio. It is an example of Richardson Romanesque architecture and has an entrance on each of its four sides. The cost to build the structure was $323,000.
The first trial was held in the building on February 3, 1900. Native Kentucky limestone was used for the exterior. Originally a weathervane of a copper horse stood atop the cupola but due to storms in the 1980s and 1990s it was removed to be protected. The building is topped by a bell that has been in every courthouse since 1806.
In the 1960s the building was renovated to provide more space for the courts. The rotunda was sealed off, a fourth floor was added, and the grand marble staircase was removed. The building was used as a courthouse until 2001. The Lexington History Museum utilized the space until the building was closed due to lead paint and other environmental issues in 2012.
The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. It is the most iconic building in Lexington Kentucky.