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Benton County Courthouse

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1905, Bell and Detweiler. 4th St., between 1st and 2nd avenues
  • Benton County Courthouse

The first courthouse for Benton County was a two-story wood structure that burned down in 1853, although it was eventually rebuilt. This was followed by a building in a fascinating version of the Greek Revival style (1856). This two-story brick building had an almost flat roof, with a tall, narrow cupola at the center. Bold projecting pediments over the windows and doors were supported on each side by brackets. This second courthouse was demolished in 1905 and replaced by the present building.

The full impact of the classical images associated with the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was slowly felt in the designs of most midwestern county courthouses. There was a tendency among architects, even after 1900, to retain the surface busyness and the picturesque qualities associated with the late nineteenth-century French Second Empire style. Such is certainly the case with the Benton County Courthouse. The verticality of the building is accentuated by the high (112 feet high) double-tiered and domed central tower. However, instead of using contrasting surface materials, as so often seen in late nineteenth-century buildings, Bell and Detweiler uniformly sheathed the Benton County Courthouse (including its details) in a light-colored Buckeye sandstone.

Writing Credits

Author: 
David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim
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Citation

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Benton County Courthouse", [Vinton, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/IA-01-CE422.

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