In 1857 the Illinois state legislature
authorized an election to be held to decide the question of whether
the DuPage county seat should remain in Naperville or be moved to
the more centrally located Wheaton, which was also on the Chicago
and Galena Railroad. Naperville won the election by a vote of 1,542
to 762. Hostility between the two towns continued for the next decade
and another election was held in 1867, of which Wheaton narrowly
won by a vote of 1,686 to 1,635. At a cost of $20,000, the City
of Wheaton quickly built a courthouse to house a courtroom, county
offices and a county jail.
The building was dedicated on July 4, 1868.
However, animosity between the two towns continued, and in 1868,
as records were moved from the old Naperville courthouse to the
new one in Wheaton, Naperville refused to turn over remaining county
records, prompting a band of Civil War veterans from Wheaton to
conduct what came to be known as the Midnight Raid on the Naperville
courthouse. As Wheatonites fled back on Wheaton-Naperville Road,
Napervillians were able to secure some last remaining records, which
were taken to the Cook County Recorder in Chicago for safekeeping.
During this time, Naperville was mounting a lawsuit
against Wheaton accusing election judges of leaving their posts
during the vote. As the courts deliberated the fate of the county
seat, the records were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Shortly thereafter, Wheaton was officially proclaimed the county
seat. As demand for space increased, the courthouse was rebuilt
in 1887 at a cost of $69,390, modeled after the courthouse in Aledo.
This structure was used for the next 94 years until the county's
rapid growth prompted the building of a brand new complex. The
old courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places,
and was formerly used by National-Louis University until National-Louis
moved to Lisle in 2004.
It is currently being developed into luxury condominiums.
On November 2, 1990, the courthouse moved to a building about two
miles (3 km) west in a new 57 acre complex at the corner of County
Farm Road and Manchester Road. It was built at a cost of $52,500,000
and includes a 300,000-square-foot (30,000 m2) judicial building.
In 1992, the county sued the architect and contractor for $4 million
after several employees became ill from the ventilation system.
In the end, however, the county received only $120,000 for minor
repairs and the jury sided with the defendants, finding that the
alleged problems were caused, primarily, by the county's negligent
operation and maintenance of the ventilation system.