In 1871 Josiah Perham, the first president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, had a vision of taking a railroad from Lake Superior to the Pacific coast.  Once the railroad entered Otter Tail County in September 1871, many people began to settle in the area.  The original townsite was laid out in June of 1872 and the first wooden buildings were built.  The village was platted March 6, 1873 and in March 1877 it officially became Perham, named after the NP Railroad president.  The village was officially incorporated by the 22nd Session of the State Legislature on February 14, 1881.

For more information on the history of Perham, check out the History Museum of East Otter Tail County


Built in 1906, the Perham City Hall building has been an important landmark in the community. The building was designed by Minneapolis architect Fremont D. Orff and construction was managed by contractor Alex Nelson. The

two-story brick building was originally built for multi-purpose use including space for the Council meeting chambers, the fire station, jail, and community gatherings. The Perham City Council held their first meeting in the building on July 3, 1906 and the building continued to serve as the municipal government’s headquarters until 1962. Over the years the building has also housed many other offices and organizations including the library, the Chamber of Commerce, the municipal gas department, the Food Shelf, extension offices, the municipal liquor store, and the East Otter Tail County Historical Society storage facilities.

In 1992 the City made the decision to renovate the old City Hall building and reclaim it as the hub of city services. The renovation plans were designed by architectural firm Triebwasser and Associates from Fargo-Moorhead and carried out by construction manager, Hammers Construction. The City offices were moved back into the renovated building in April of 1993. Currently all administrative offices of the City are located on the second floor

of the City Hall building including the office of the City Manager, the utility billing department, economic development department, and the finance  department. The lower level of the building housed the municipal liquor store, Landmark Liquor until 2008 when the store was relocated to a new location near Hwy 10.  The lower level was remodeled in 2008 and is currently occupied by the Chamber of Commerce in the front half and the City Council Chambers in the back half.

In 1984 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Buildings. "The Perham City Hall qualifies because it is a good representative example of civic architecture," said National Register Historian, Susan Roth of the State Historic Preservation Office. "It has been important to the community, to local politics and to the state." government in the City of Perham." In his 1916 History of Otter Tail County, Minnesota, J.W. Mason said of the building, "The city hall was erected at a cost of ten thousand dollars and for a village of this size it is one of the best in the state."

Official Website of the City of Perham, MinnesotaPO Box 130 125 Second Ave NE Perham, MN 56573218-346-4455 (phone) 218-346-9364 (fax)24 Hour Public Works Utility Emergencies: 1-888-262-3837The City of Perham is an equal opportunity provider and employer.