View of the Stenbock House on the northern slope of Toompea hill in old town Tallinn.
The history of the Stenbock House goes back to the 1780s, when the Russian Imperial administration of what was then the Governorate of Estonia launched a scheme to erect new buildings for administrative purposes. Originally, the building was intended as a courthouse, and it was count Jakob Pontus Stenbock, a member of the local nobility, who won the tender to build it. The construction started in 1787, but soon the Russian state ran low on funds, because of the ongoing Russo-Turkish War. Due to this Stenbock paid the construction out of his own pocket, so the building passed into his possession when it was completed in 1792. He subsequently used it as his Tallinn residence, for which the building still bears his name.
After Stenbock's death in 1828, the building passed between different owners until 1899, when it finally became the property of the Governorate administration and at last could be used as a courthouse. During both the first period of independence (1919-1940) and the Soviet occupation (until 1991) the building continued to be used as a courthouse. However, the maintenance of the building was gravely neglected during the Soviet years, among other things, the ceilings of two courtrooms and the archive of the court collapsed. When the Estonian Government assumed ownership in the early 1990s, the whole building was in risk of collapse, so a complete renovation was carried out between 1996 and 2000. It became the official seat of the Estonian Government at its re-opening in 2000.