Butler County was created on March 24, 1803, about three weeks after Ohio became a state. Hamilton won the competition for the county seat, thanks to Israel Ludlow, Hamilton's founder. Ludlow's donation of the public square secured the county seat. The first Butler County trial court met in July 1803 in a tavern before moving to a two-story military building located at what had been Fort Hamilton (1791-1796). The county built the first courthouse on this public square in 1810. The two-story stone building contained a jail on the first floor and a courtroom on the upper level. A new brick two-story courthouse was built on this square in 1817 at a cost of $10,000. A four-sided clock was added to the top of the building in 1837.
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A cupola topped the 1817 courthouse, giving the building a total height of 110 feet. A bell inside the cupola signaled the start of court and public occasions and warned of emergencies. The courthouse was used until 1885 when it was demolished to make way for the present courthouse, the third on this site. Its cornerstone was placed on October 29, 1885. The $305,000 four-story structure, with a similar four-sided clock that had been on the former courthouse, was completed and occupied on February 4, 1889. The courthouse, which has experienced several cosmetic alterations, has survived fire, flood, and many storms. Three Hamilton firefighters died in a fire in the tower on March 14, 1912. The courthouse was a temporary morgue when more than 200 people died in the area in the 1913 flood, March 25-26.