A proclamation of Territorial Governor Lewis Cass organized Oakland County and designated Pontiac as the county seat on May 28, 1820, although the boundaries had been established on January 12, 1819. At that time this area was wilderness, with the Indian trail from Detroit to Saginaw the main artery of settlement. Farming was the chief occupation of early times, and by mid-century the county led the state in agricultural production. The numerous lakes were a major attraction to settlers and vacationers, and today Oakland County has many public parks which serve urbanized southeastern Michigan. Once the home of the Michigan Military Academy, the county now has a number of outstanding educational facilities. Automobile manufacture has long been important here and remains the major industry.
Oakland County Courthouse
The first Oakland County courthouse, built about 1824, was located on the corner of Saginaw and Huron Streets on land given by the Pontiac Company. The log first story housed the jail while the frame second story was occupied by the courtroom and the sheriff's residence. Following several attempts to remove the county seat from Pontiac, a new courthouse was opened on the same site in 1858. This was replaced in 1905 by a three-story building of gray, Cleveland sandstone. By the 1950's population pressure and demand for increased services forced new construction. A more expansive site near the city's western limits, on which some county buildings were already located, was enlarged for the Oakland County Service Center. Ground for the present courthouse was broken on September 21, 1959.