The courthouse and adjoining jail occupy a square in the center of town. The county's first courthouse, a small frame building completed in 1820, was augmented by 1835 with a stone clerk's office and jail. In 1895 a committee appointed to obtain plans for a new courthouse placed advertisements in county newspapers and in Wheeling and Charleston papers. On December 21, 1895, the committee selected plans that Baltimore architects Frank E. and Henry R. Davis had submitted. The brothers Davis, whose Fayette County Courthouse had burned two years earlier, agreed to a fee of 5 percent of the $22,000 contract.
The courthouse is built of quarry-faced sandstone of a warm, ruddy hue, laid in regular courses. Lines are classical, and entrance is through a pedimented doorway that centers a one-bay, two-story, pedimented pavilion flanked by one-bay wings. The main block rises behind this frontispiece. A full entablature supports a hipped roof, and a small, open cupola at the apex is capped with an ogee-shaped dome.
The B. F. Smith Fireproof Construction Company, of Washington, D.C., designed and built the 1910 jail, southeast of the courthouse. In 1941–1942 Levi J. Dean designed an addition connecting the courthouse and the jail. The jail and Dean's addition, the latter built with WPA funding, display the same quarry-faced stone as the original building and are properly subservient to it. The entrances to the 1941 addition are Art Deco in spirit.