Washington Territory's first courthouse opened in October 1855, only months after sealed bids were requested on March 7, 1855 for construction and furnishings. The two-story wooden building was 45 feet long, 30 feet wide and 22 feet high and it was built at what is now 9th and Reserve streets in Vancouver. Three years later, a county jail was built on the northeast corner of the lot.
Numerous repairs were needed until a new courthouse could be built in 1883. After it opened, the Sisters of Charity of Providence bought the older one for $1,030. The sisters planned to add it to the grounds of St. Joseph Hospital, but it soon burned down.