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Prairie Jewels Iowa’s Courthouses Photographs by David Richmond Text by Michael Adams

Contents pages Forward A Adair, Greenfield Adams County, Corning Allamakee County, Waukon Appanoose County, Centerville Audubon County, Audubon B Benton County, Vinton Black Hawk, Waterloo Boone County, Boone Bremer County, Waverly Buchanan County, Independence Buena Vista, Storm Lake Butler County, Allison C Calhoun County, Rockwell City Carroll County, Carroll Cass County, Atlantic Cedar County, Tipton Cerro Gordo County, Mason City Cherokee County, Cherokee Chickasaw County, New Hampton Clarke County, Osceola Clay County, Spencer Clayton County, Elkader Clinton County, Clinton Crawford County, Denison D Dallas County, Adel Davis County, Bloomfield Decatur County, Leon Delaware County, Manchester Des Moines County, Burlington Dickinson County, Spirit Lake Dubuque County, Dubuque E Emmet County, Estherville F Fayette County, West Union Floyd County, Charles City

8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 76

Franklin County, Hampton Fremont County, Sidney G Greene County, Jefferson Grundy County, Grundy Center Guthrie County, Guthrie Center H Hamilton County, Webster City Hancock County, Garner Hardin County, Eldora Harrison County, Logan Henry County, Mount Pleasant Howard County, Cresco Humboldt County, Dakota City I Ida County, Ida Grove Iowa County, Marengo J Jackson County, Maquoketa Jasper County, Newton Jefferson County, Fairfield Johnson County, Iowa City Jones County, Anamosa K Keokuk County, Sigourney Kossuth County, Algona L Lee County, Fort Madison Lee County, Keokuk Linn County, Cedar Rapids Louisa County, Wapello Lucas County, Chariton Lyon County, Rock Rapids M Madison County, Winterset Mahaska County, Oskaloosa Marion County, Knoxville Marshall County, Marshalltown Mills County, Glenwood Mitchell County, Osage Monona County, Onawa Monroe County, Albia

78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 100 102 104 106 108 110 112 114 116 114

116 118 120 122 124 126 128 130 132 134 136 138 140 142

Montgomery County, Red Oak Muscatine County, Muscatine O O’Brien County, Primghar Osceola County, Sibley P Page County, Clarinda Palo Alto County, Emmetsburg Plymouth County, Le Mars Pocahontas County, Pocahontas Polk County, Des Moines Pottawattamie County, Council Bluffs Poweshiek County, Montezuma R Ringgold County, Mount Ayr S Sac County, Sac City Scott County, Davenport Shelby County, Harlan Sioux County, Orange City Story County, Nevada T Tama County, Toledo Taylor County, Bedford U Union County, Creston V Van Buren County, Keosauqua W Wapello County, Ottumwa Warren County, Indianola Washington County, Washington Wayne County, Corydon Webster County, Fort Dodge Winnebago County, Forest City Winneshiek County, Decorah Woodbury County, Sioux City Worth County, Northwood Wright County, Clarion

144 146



148 150 152 154 156 158 160 162 164 166 168 170 172 174 176 178 180 182 184 186 188 190 192 194 196 198 200 202 204

Index of County Seats pages A Adel Iowa, Dallas County 54 Albia Iowa, Monroe County 142 Algona Iowa, Kossuth County 114 Allison Iowa, Butler County 28 Anamosa Iowa, Jones County 110 Atlantic Iowa, Cass County 34 Audubon Iowa, Audubon County 14 B Bedford Iowa, Taylor County 180 Bloomfield Iowa, Davis County 56 Boone Iowa, Boone County 20 Burlington Iowa, Des Moines County 62 C Carroll Iowa, Carroll County 32 Cedar Rapids Iowa, Linn County 120 Centerville Iowa, Appanoose County 12 Chariton Iowa, Lucas County 124 Charles City Iowa, Floyd County 72 Cherokee Iowa, Cherokee County 40 Clarinda Iowa, Page County 152 Clarion Iowa, Wright County 204 Clinton Iowa, Clinton County 50 Corning Iowa, Adams County 8 Corydon Iowa, Wayne County 192 Council Bluffs Iowa, Pottawattamie County 162 Cresco Iowa Howard County 94 Creston Iowa, Union County 182 D Dakota City Iowa, Humboldt County 96 Davenport Iowa, Scott County 170 Decorah Iowa, Winneshiek County 198 Denison Iowa, Crawford County 52 Des Moines Iowa, Polk County 160 Dubuque Iowa, Dubuque County 66 E Eldora Iowa, Hardin County 88 Elkader Iowa, Clayton County 48 Emmetsburg Iowa, Palo Alto County 154 Estherville Iowa, Emmet County 68

F Fairfield Iowa, Jefferson County Forest City Iowa, Winnebago County Fort Dodge Iowa, Webster County Fort Madison Iowa, Lee County G Garner Iowa, Hancock County Glenwood Iowa, Mills County Greenfield Iowa, Adair County Grundy Center Iowa, Grundy County Guthrie Center Iowa, Guthrie County H Hampton Iowa, Franklin County Harlan Iowa, Shelby County I Ida Grove Iowa, Ida County Independence Iowa, Buchanan County Indianola Iowa, Warren County Iowa City Iowa, Johnson County J Jefferson Iowa, Greene County K Keokuk Iowa, Lee County Keosauqua Iowa, Van Buren County Knoxville Iowa, Marion County L Le Mars Iowa, Plymouth County Leon Iowa, Decatur County Logan Iowa, Harrison County M Manchester Iowa, Delaware County Maquoketa Iowa, Jackson County Marengo Iowa, Iowa County Marshalltown Iowa, Marshall County Mason City Iowa, Cerro Gordo County Montezuma Iowa, Poweshiek County Mount Ayr Iowa, Ringgold County Mount Pleasant Iowa, Henry County Muscatine Iowa, Muscatine County N Nevada Iowa, Story County

106 196 194 116 86 136 6 80 82 74 172 98 24 188 108 78 118 184 132 156 62 90 64 102 100 134 38 164 166 92 146 176

New Hampton Iowa, Chickasaw County Newton Iowa, Jasper County Northwood Iowa, Worth County O Onawa Iowa, Monona County Orange City Iowa, Sioux County Osage Iowa, Mitchell County Osceola Iowa, Mitchell County Oskaloosa Iowa, Mahaska County Ottumwa Iowa, Wapello County P Pocahontas Iowa, Pocahontas County Primghar Iowa, O’Brien County R Red Oak Iowa, Montgomery County Rock Rapids Iowa, Lyon County Rockwell City, Calhoun County S Sac City Iowa, Sac County Sibley Iowa, Osceola County Sidney Iowa, Fremont County Sigourney Iowa, Keokuk County Sioux City Iowa, Woodbury County Spencer Iowa, Clay County Spirit Lake Iowa, Dickinson County Storm Lake Iowa, Buena Vista County T Tipton Iowa, Cedar County Toledo Iowa, Tama County Vinton Iowa, Benton County W Wapello Iowa, Louisa County Washington Iowa, Washington County Waterloo Iowa, Black Hawk County Waukon Iowa, Allamakee County Waverly Iowa, Bremer County Webster City Iowa, Hamilton County West Union Iowa, Fayette County Winterset Iowa, Madison County

42 104 202 140 174 138 44 130 186 158 148 144 126 30 168 150 76 112 200 46 64 26 36 178 15 122 190 18 10 22 84 70 128

Greenfield Adair County


Adair County For the people of Adair County, the third time was the charm. The county has hosted three courthouses during its tumultuous history. Why tumultuous? Because from 1856 to 1874, the people of Adair County fought, what was for all intents and purposes, “a county seat war.” Pro-Greenfield forces battled, oftentimes literally, with the gentle folks from Fontanelle to move the county seat to Greenfield. Twice the people of Greenfield called for a vote, and twice the measure fell to defeat. However in 1874 a final vote was taken and Greenfield emerged as the victor, a vote that was later confirmed by the courts According to the county’s official history, that same year before the move could be finalized, a mob of some 200 Greenfield men traveled by wagon to Fontanelle to liberate county records and furniture from the humble courthouse there and establish an unofficial county seat in Greenfield, all this while the Fontanelle townspeople looked on passively and the sheriff ’s objections fell on deaf ears. The county’s first courthouse was located in Sommerset--later renamed Fontanelle by the Iowa Legislature after the Civil War. This courthouse also saw duty as a school, church and town hall until it was destroyed by fire in 1910, long after its duties as the seat of county justice and the repository of public records. The second courthouse, by this time located in Greenfield, did not fare well and in 1883, it, too, was destroyed by fire. But on July 4, 1891, a cornerstone was laid during a grand ceremony on the town square for a new courthouse, a three-story, red-brick Romanesque beauty designed by S.E. Maxon of Council Bluffs (who also designed the Fremont County Courthouse in Sidney). Inside the cornerstone, the townspeople chose to place an 1891 nickle, a Bible, some newspapers and bottles of wine, corn and oil. A year later, a reporter for the Adair County Democrat wrote: “Every visitor speaks of the delightful location and cannot too highly praise the good taste evinced by the selection of this site as the permanent abode of the Adair County Seat of Justice.” The courthouse was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1981. 7

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Available for pre-sell in hardcover and softcover through Kickstarter:

Des Moines Polk County


Polk County Courthouse By the dawn of the 20th century, Willis T. Proudfoot and George Washington Bird were on a roll. Their Wichita, Kansas-based architectural firm was considered one of the most prestigious in the Midwest having built their reputation throughout the region designing banks, courthouses, university buildings and private homes. In 1904, with the local Polk County government feeling flush and wanting to replace their serviceable if outdated 43-year-old twostory domed courthouse, they turned to Proudfoot and Bird. By this time, the firm was already quite well known throughout Iowa, having designed impressive buildings at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and Simpson College and the Dallas County courthouse, a French Renaissance building completed in1902. The new courthouse, the county’s third, was to be a grandiose Beaux-Arts behemoth that boasted a gray limestone façade, marble columns and stairways and murals painted by noted artists Charles Cummings and Edward Simmons. Sitting on four acres of land at the corner of 6th and Mulberry streets in downtown Des Moines, the ornate four-story building is considered classic Beaux-Arts, complete with baroque and Rococo flourishes reminiscent of the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris. The cost, considered outrageous for its day, was $750,000, quite a leap from the $2,015 spent by the county in 1848 for the modest brick structure on Cherry Street that served as the first county courthouse. The Polk County Courthouse was named to the National Register of Historic Places on April 30, 1979.


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Orange City Sioux County


Sioux County Courthouse In 1902 The Sioux County supervisors chose a local man, W.W. Beach, to design their new courthouse. Beach was still, at 30 years old, a young man with a three-year-old architectural firm in Sioux City when the county’s voters approved a bond issue to build a new courthouse. An Alton native, Beach had some modest success as a regional architect, but it was a major commission at Morningside College to design and build the Main Hall, that attracted the attention of the county’s leaders. Despite the construction company’s bankruptcy, the new three-story red sandstone Sioux County courthouse was finished in Orange City in 1904. It was as if the people of Orange City had finally put to rest any questions about the true county seat of Sioux County. The county’s first courthouse was in Calliope, a small village of 15 in the northwest corner of the county whose settlers erected a one-story log courthouse in 1860 complete with gun portholes and fort-like appointments to keep Indians and outlaws from disrupting county governance. But in the winter of 1872 the building proved no match for a raiding party on bobsleds from Orange City and Hull who stormed into town, cutting a hole in the courthouse and absconding with a 5,000-lb safe filled with county records and important documents. Today’s courthouse is considered a classic example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, which is characterized by a heavy use of arches, columns, rustication and cylindrical towers, all of which are present in Beach’s design. By the turn of the century, this particular style was said to be waning in its popularity, given its heyday in 1880. But it is highly possible that Beach was inspired by two South Dakota county courthouses completed a few years prior. Regardless, Beach’s design is beloved by the people of Sioux County, who chose to extensively renovate the building during a six-year span from 1976 to 1982. In 1977, the building was placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 1977.


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Keosauqua Van Buren County


Van Buren County Courthouse It is argued that the first legal hanging in Iowa took place in 1846 in the shadow of the Van Buren County Courthouse in Keosauqua. According to news reports, the trial of William McCauley was the most notorious public event of its day. McCauley of Washington County was found guilty of shooting his lover’s husband following a change-of-venue trial that attracted people from all over Iowa and his execution attracted a sizeable crowd as well. Other towns, too, have laid claim to the “first legal hanging” claim—most notably Centerville, Burlington and Ft. Madison—but Keosauqua makes the strongest case, and the area adjacent to the courthouse is known to this day as Hangman’s Hollow. However, while the hanging claim has its detractors, the fact that the Van Buren County Courthouse is the oldest continuously operated courthouse in Iowa and the second oldest in the country, is not in dispute. Completed in 1843 for a cost of $6,712, the courthouse continues to host trials and administer justice on a daily basis and when not in session is open to the public for tours and community events. The courthouse received extensive renovation in both 1983 and 1997 and is considered a wonderful example of Greek Revival architecture. Its second-story courtroom for many years held the honor of being the largest auditorium in Iowa to eschew column or pillars, and in 1977, the courthouse was named to the National Register of Historic Places.


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Fort Dodge Webster County


Webster County Courthouse It has been said that the location of the Webster County seat was determined by a fight between two able-bodied citizens of Ft. Dodge and Homer, the latter a prairie hamlet of 600 lying between the Des Moines and Boone rivers that claimed to be the legitimate center of county government. After all, it was the settlers in Homer who built the first county courthouse and conducted the county’s business. That is until the people of Ft. Dodge took exception. By the middle of the 19th century, the two humble settlements were each laying claim to being the true county seat and to settle the dispute, an election was held in 1855. But the subsequent rapacious ballot-stuffing that took place on both sides ended in a vote count that far surpassed the number of men, women and children in the county. Each side cried foul, even though Ft. Dodge emerged with a 13-vote edge. Legend has it that Granville Berkley of Homer suggested that the citizens of Homer and Ft. Dodge “fight it out” to determine which community could rightfully claim to be the true county seat. It was Duncombe of Ft. Dodge who emerged as the victor over John Maxwell following the wellattended spectacle on the Homer public square. Local and state historians are split as to whether the fight ever took place. What is not in dispute is that three years later, after the apocryphal fight, the citizens of Ft. Dodge began construction on the county’s second courthouse, a plain, two-story, functional edifice on Sixth Street, which they finished two years later for a cost of $39,450. But the county outgrew this wallflower, and by century’s end, the county’s leaders turned to architect H.C. Koch and the Northern Building Company to design and build something more befitting the grand charms of a blossoming county seat. In 1902 the county dedicated their new courthouse, an ornate, four-story limestone affair located at 701 Central Avenue that hinted at the best of Beaux Arts and Classical Revival styles. The courthouse underwent extensive renovation beginning in 1980 and a year later was named to the National Register for Historic Places.


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Available for pre-sell in hardcover and softcover through Kickstarter:

David Richmond

Michael Adams

David Richmond, Professor of Art at Simpson College, has enjoyed wide-ranging experiences in graphic design, photography and visual storytelling over his 30-year professional career.

Michael Adams has been a writer, photographer, speechwriter and editor during a 30-year career in journalism, public relations and marketing. He has been a freelance writer for a variety of national and regional magazines and newspapers and is the author of an award-winning play, “China,” and a travel memoir titled “Our Man in Stavropol.” He’s a journalism graduate of the University of Iowa and spent four years in the U.S. Air Force stationed in the United Kingdom. He was born in Washington, D.C., but has lived in Iowa for the past 35 years, the last 20 years in Des Moines.

His academic teaching background includes photography and design at the University of Iowa College of Art and Art History; graphic design at Dickinson University in North Dakota; and art and photography at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. At Dickinson University, Prof. Richmond developed the institution’s first graphic design program. Always curious and eager to inspire students, Prof. Richmond most recently led a Simpson group to China for a photographic tour of that country. He also led a committee that successfully acquired an NEA grant for Simpson College. Prof. Richmond received his bachelor of fine arts, a master of arts and a master of fine arts from the University of Iowa.

Currently he serves as vice president of marketing for Greater Iowa Credit Union. He has taught photography, journalism, marketing and public relations on the college level. During his career, he has worked for Iowa Wesleyan College, Mercy Hospital Medical Center, Broadlawns Medical Center and Simpson College, all in a public relations and marketing capacity. Adams is a former president of the Central Iowa Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and received his APR accreditation in 1990.


Prairie layout sp  

This is an electronic sample of the soon to be publish book, "Prairie Jewels," in hardcover and softcover.

Prairie layout sp  

This is an electronic sample of the soon to be publish book, "Prairie Jewels," in hardcover and softcover.