The Bay County Building was the special project of Samuel G. Houghton, a popular county circuit court judge. It was developed during the Great Depression as a county-funded project meant to relieve local unemployment. The new building replaced an 1860s brick Italianate structure created by C. K. Porter of Buffalo, New York. This one was designed by Goddeyne (1889–1964), a prominent local architect.
The county building is a massive, eight-story, sharply rectilinear structure on a weighted base. Its steel frame is sheathed in limestone and granite. Piers rise up the entire face, creating a strong vertical emphasis, and the upper stories are stepped back. The Art Deco styling is a clean and functional departure from the revival styles popularly used at the time for governmental buildings in Michigan and elsewhere. The building's interior is intact with its original Art Deco detailing and many of its furnishings. Of special interest is the entrance foyer, with a painted ceiling fascia and engraved brass elevator doors, and the fourth-floor circuit courtroom, with its original oak wainscoting, balcony, and relief plaster wall sculptures.