Though Elk Rapids had been originally been designated at the Antrim County's county seat, in 1879 voters chose to move it to Bellaire, a more central location, by a vote of 574 to 446.
Temporary facilities were used for the courthouse and county offices until 1883, when the county rented office space in the Kearney Township Hall. More than 20 years later, in April 1904, voters approved the construction of a courthouse, total cost of about $30,000. The courthouse cornerstone was laid on November 11, 1904.
The late Victorian building began its life as a courthouse in 1905, but there was one thing missing; a clock. Due to a lack of funds, the clock tower lacked a timepiece for years. (Note the absence of a clock in the adjacent picture, taken in 1917 at the dedication of the courthouse flagpole.) In 1922, the local fire department led a fundraising campaign and the four-faced clock, which is still ticking away in the tower, was installed on December 14, 1922.
Decades passed. A glass rotunda that had once been used as a community greenhouse was eliminated in the 1930s when a steel ceiling was installed. The courthouse was designated a Michigan Historical Site in 1974, but the county was growing, both in size and in need, and the courthouse got so cramped that the necessity for a new county building became clear.
In 1978, a new county building was completed for $1.4 million. All county functions moved next door to the new building and the 73-year old courthouse became little more than a storage facility.
The building was rededicated on August 8, 1992 and all of the Antrim County court functions were moved back to the 1905 courthouse, where they remain today.