On December 4, 1872, following a public vote by the residents of Western Maryland, Governor William Pinkney Whyte issued a proclamation establishing a new county, created out of the western-most portion of Allegany County. The new county was named Garrett, in honor of John Work Garrett, President of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. The towns of Oakland, Grantsville, Deer Park, McHenry and Accident all entered the contest to determine which would be selected as the county seat. After a lengthy and sometimes contentious process, Oakland was chosen as the county seat on March 10, 1874. However, because of continuing conflict and fiscal constraints, the county commissioner and circuit court sessions were convened at the Glades Hotel and other sites in town. Finally, on October 14, 1876, the county commissioners authorized the construction of a courthouse and jail. These buildings were erected by Messrs. Burton and Bush, at a cost of approximately $15,000. A brick kiln was established a few blocks south of the site, and approximately 300,000 handmade bricks were used in the construction. Work on the courthouse began on April 11, 1877, and was completed in September. The county commissioners conducted their first meeting in the new courthouse on October 4, 1877.
The modest two-story courthouse served the needs of Garrett County for thirty-one years, until the present courthouse was constructed. On may 12, 1907 the contract for the new courthouse was awarded to Mr. W. A. Liller of Keyser, West Virginia, his bid being $60,962. Work on the new courthouse began in May, 1907 and was completed in November, 1908. The original courthouse was later enlarged and became Oakland High School, continuing as such until 1953 when Southern High School was built. The old building then served as offices for the Garrett County Board of Education for a number of years, and was torn down in 2002.
The original courthouse was located one block north of this marker sign, on the northeast corner of Fourth and Green Streets.