Mason is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is named after the state's first governor, Stevens T. Mason. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 8,252. It is the county seat of Ingham County. Mason is the only city in the U.S. that serves as a county seat ahead of a state capital, with the capital of Lansing also in Ingham County. Despite being the county seat, many county offices and courtrooms are located in Lansing.
In 1836 Charles Noble knew that Michigan would be seeking a central location for a new capital when it became a state. He purchased an area of forest, cleared 20 acres (81,000 m2), and founded Mason Center. The "Center" was soon dropped. In 1847, however, the state chose Lansing Township 12 miles (19 km) northward to be its capital due its potential for water power. Noble managed to make Mason the county seat instead. Ingham County's first downtown courthouse was built in 1843, and was replaced in 1858, and then again in 1905.
In 1865, Mason was incorporated as a village; in 1875 the town became a city. In the 1800s, Mason was the center of Ingham County activity, even more than was Lansing, the state capital. In 1877, Lansing attempted to take the status of county seat for itself, but the two cities made an agreement that moved some county offices and courts to Lansing in exchange for Mason remaining the county seat. As a result, Michigan is the only state in the country with a capital city that is not also a county seat.