By 1890, the 1841 courthouse was falling into disrepair and the need for a new courthouse was urgent. The building was becoming unusable. Controversy surrounding the location and construction cost of the building continued, but efforts to complete the project went forward. The local government set aside a budget of $125,000 to fund the construction of the building. Initial attempts at securing someone to do the actual work of building the courthouse were unsuccessful. All offers were too expensive, until the contract was eventually passed to Albert Ney. This in turn drew more controversy. It seemed as if much of the funds given ended up going to individuals outside of Dubuque. However, this was not enough to stop the project. The current courthouse was successfully completed three years later.
The Dubuque County Courthouse is an example of Beaux Arts Architecture, a designation that helped eventually land it in the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first location in Dubuque to receive this designation. The architectural style of the building is widely agreed to be beautiful. The many bronze status that adorn the building add to its beauty. The largest of the statues is the fourteen foot tall statue of Lady Justice. The courthouse is missing four angel statues that were present at its initial construction. Those statues were sacrificed for the war effort during World War I, but the other statues remain.
Since then, the building has undergone a few changes and renovations. It was threatened with demolition in the 1960s to make way for a highway but locals protested and the plan was dropped by 1970. A chance encounter contributed to this decision. In 1958, artist and retired executive director of the Chicago Arts Club, Isabel F. Jarvis, who happened to be in the city at the time, sketched the courthouse. The sketch was eventually accepted by the Smithsonian Institution. The courthouse underwent renovations in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.