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Lee County Courthouse

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1841–1842, attrib. Father Samuel Mazzochelli. 701 F St.
  • Lee County Courthouse

The Lee County Courthouse is one of several buildings (including the first Iowa State Capitol building) that have been attributed to Father Mazzochelli. The myth that he was the architect for the Lee County Courthouse is romantic, but hard-core evidence is hardly present. The design of the courthouse is that of a quite late version of the Greek Revival temple as a public building. Four somewhat massive Tuscan columns support the entablature and pediment. The deep entablature and cornice are carried around the remaining three sides of this two-story brick structure. On the roof ridge above the front entrance was a square base upon which was an octagonal domed cupola. Interior changes were made within the courthouse in 1876, and at that time a new wing was added to the north. In 1895 additional space was added to the building to house rooms for the supervisors and judges, and for a new boiler/heating room. The building was destroyed by fire in 1911. Surprisingly there was a strong contingent in the city and community that wished simply to rebuild the building as it had existed (with some interior modifications). Since the building was insured, this in the end seemed the most sensible course of action (for both sentimental and financial reasons). What we see today then is the rebuilt (1911) structure, minus its domed cupola and the row of chimneys that projected above the roof on both sides of the building.

Writing Credits

Author: 
David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim
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Citation

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Lee County Courthouse", [Fort Madison, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/IA-01-ME225.

Print Source

Buildings of Iowa, David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 98-99.

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