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County Manager's Office

Phone: 913-715-0725

111 S Cherry, Suite 3300, Olathe, KS 66061

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Courthouse History

Since the creation of Johnson County in 1855, the county court system has occupied three different facilities. The current building has housed the Tenth District Court of Kansas for more than half a century.

In the beginning, Johnson County used space on the second floor of the Harry Case Building (built in 1859) as the county courthouse.

The first Johnson County courthouse
The first Johnson County courthouse, circa 1870. The first permanent courthouse in Johnson County was on the top floor of this building in Olathe. Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum.

Then county voters approved a special tax to build the first official county courthouse at a cost of $36,414. Located north of the present courthouse, the three-story brick building opened in 1892.

The current courthouse opened in 1952. When construction began in 1951, the court system had only three judges. The county population was approximately 63,000. The facility had nine floors and almost 235,000 square feet of space. Besides the court system, the courthouse housed most county government departments.

The Johnson County courthouse in 1952. Photo courtesy of The Kansas City Star.
The Johnson County Courthouse circa 1952. Photograph courtesy of The Kansas City Star.

In 1954, the county made an addition to the building, followed by a third wing in 1968. By 1975, the courts had expanded to eight judges. The county population had increased fourfold — to more than 237,000 residents. In need of more space, the county added an eight-story tower onto the east side of the building.

The Johnson County courthouse in 1971. Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum.
Johnson County Courthouse, 1971. Photograph courtesy of the Johnson County Museum.

Through the years, the building has evolved to address the continual need for more space. The jail moved from the fourth floor to new detention centers in Olathe and Gardner.

As of 2016, the courthouse had 19 district courts, four magistrate courts and three hearing officers. It saw about 400,000 visitors per year. It housed the law library, the Clerk of the District Court and District Attorney’s Office.

In 2005 and 2008, studies and master planning concluded the courthouse was “inadequate and fails to meet even the current space requirements of the Johnson County Courts.”

The studies cited inefficiencies in:

  • Security, including movement, transportation and separation of inmates between visitors and court officials
  • Costly mechanical systems
  • Failing to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements
  • Serving the general public

Studies also concluded that as the population grows, the county will need more space for court hearings.

The Johnson County courthouse today
Johnson County Courthouse, 1971. Photograph courtesy of the Johnson County Museum.

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