Organized in 1854, Johnson County located its seat of government to Wardville and in Buchanan before moving in 1867 to Camp Henderson, which later became Cleburne. The Buchanan courthouse was moved to the new county seat and used until 1869, when the county constructed a new, two-story brick building. By 1880, that facility had become too small, and three years later a magnificent Second Empire courthouse, designed by W.D. Dodson, took its place.Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-2000
Fire destroyed Dodson's 1883 building on April 15, 1912, and the Commissioner's Court chose German-born Otto Lang (1864-1947) and Welshman Frank Witchell (1879-1958) to design their new house of justice. While many firms of the time were designing Beaux Arts or Late Victorian structures, Lang and Witchell were fond of the increasingly popular Prairie School style as inspired by Frank Lloyd Write and Louis Sullivan. Johnson County Courthouse drawings are attributed to architect Charles E. Barglebaugh, the Project Architect for Lang and Witchell who trained under Wright.
Complete in 1913, the courthouse is very similar to Lang and Witchell's Cooke County Courthouse in Gainesville, Texas. Designed on a basic Beaux Arts plan but modernized with Prairie Style elements and Sullivanesque details, the Johnson County Courthouse features a prominent clock tower and an impressive six-story interior atrium topped by a stained art glass dome.
At the dawn of the 21st century, the Johnson County Courthouse remains in service as the center of county government.