"This courthouse [in Bel Air] was burned on the night of February 19, 1858, the main building being entirely destroyed, but the offices of clerk and register of wills, which were situated in the wings, were preserved with all the valuable records. ... The Legislature was in session at the time, and the fire had not been entirely extinguished before a committee set forth for Annapolis on the following morning to secure passage of an act authorizing the erection a new courthouse. This act was passed the 25th of February, 1858. ... the building was completed within the amount named [$20,000, equal to about $460,000 today] ... and a surplus handed over to the county commissioners.
History of Harford County by Walter W. Preston