The Jefferson County Courthouse, designed by architect David Dubach in the Classic Revival style and built in 1854-55, replaced an earlier building which burned in 1853. The cost was $36,000.
The lower floor exterior is rusticated, and the west facade is pierced by three large round arches. Above these arches stands an Ionic tetrastyle portico. Windows are long, and those on the street sides are capped with slightly projecting stone lintels supported by corbels. The budding is surmounted by a very large dome and cupola. In the dome is a bell weighing 3,116 pounds and a town clock installed by Israel Fowler, a Madison clock maker. The stone came from Marble Hill, a few miles south of Madison. At that time it was believed that this stone was a fine grade of marble, but it was quickly discovered that Marble Hill stone eroded easily unless kept painted. During an extensive remodeling in 1960 the two-story courtroom was sacrificed to provide an additional floor, but the exterior architecture was not altered.
Pediments appear on all four sides of the building. Dubach seems to have altered these pediments during construction. He doubled the elevation of the pediments and possibly made the columns a bit slimmer than his original drawing indicates.
The Madison courthouse shows many similarities in design with the courthouse plan shown in Lafever's Young Builder's General Instructor. These similarities indicate that Dubach had a copy of the Lafever book in his possession at the time the Madison structure was built. The dome, entablature, and cornices are similar. The pediment in Lafever is flatter and more Greek, thus more like the Dubach drawing, and Dubach's pediment as built is steeper and more Roman.
According to a newspaper report of 1859, after a fire in 1858 John Temperly was in charge of replacing the courthouse cupola.