Political rivalry within the new county between the towns of Harrison and nearby Bellefonte nearly caused bloodshed over which town should be county seat—Harrison won. The first courthouse of 1870 was a two-story log building, but even with modifications in the early twentieth century, a larger courthouse was necessary. Thompson, Arkansas’s leading architect at the time, designed the three-story Classical Revival building, and it is one of the most refined of his fourteen courthouses in the state. Set in the center of the courthouse square, the almost square brick building, with cast-stone detailing, has slightly projecting central bays with pedimented gables on all four sides. Interior spaces feature fine oak trim, mosaic tile floors, and an octagonal intersection of the two bisecting hallways. Stairways at the ends of the east–west hallway share marble triads and ornamental iron balustrades.
On the adjacent block at 201 N. Main, the Old Federal Building (1905, James Knox Taylor, Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury), also of red brick with white detailing, has its design source in Italian Renaissance palazzos. The brick of the first story is laid to resemble rustication, second-story windows have pedimented lintels, and a dentiled molding lines the cornice. The building now houses various civic offices and courts.