Monday, January 11, 2021

Four Iowa courthouses that have fallen to time

These four images of Iowa courthouses that fell victim to time and circumstance during the 20th century turned up last week as the Lucas County Historical Society's postcard collection was being reorganized, causing me to think a little about seats of county government in this section of southern Iowa.

Of the seven counties that share a common boundary (at least a corner) with Lucas County, four share our good fortune in having grand 19th century buildings planted in the middle of their town squares --- Marion, Monroe, Appanoose and Decatur.

The image at the top here is of the 1890 Wayne County Courthouse in Corydon, demolished in 1964 after it had become dangerously unstable. It was replaced in the months that followed by a pleasant although unremarkable modern office building.

Something similar had happened in Clarke County 10 years earlier, during 1956, when this grand 1892 Romanesque Revival building in Osceola was replaced with a considerably more utilitarian structure.

Warren County has had the worst courthouse luck in the region. This is the 1868 courthouse that commenced to fall down during the early 1930s and was replaced in 1938-39 by a more practical building constructed in what sometimes is called a Public Works Administration (PWA) Moderne design. That newer building was judged to be unsafe within recent years and demolished during 2019. A replacement currently is in progress in Indianola.

This courthouse image is from Atlantic, the seat of Cass County some distance to the west. This 1888 building burned during 1932 and was replaced in 1934 by a nice example of that PWA Moderne design --- the first in Iowa to be built with Public Works Administration funds.

Finally, here are images of the Lucas County Courthouse, built in 1893 and dedicated in 1894, intact except for the peaked roof on the clock tower. The newer image is a few years old --- the courthouse clock was in the process of being restored when it was taken and new windows are being installed in an ongoing project that continues as funding becomes available.

1 comment:

Tom Atha said...

Great story, as always. Keep writing.