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Franklin County Courthouse

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1890–1891, T. Dudley Allen. Northeast corner of Central and Federal streets
  • Franklin County Courthouse (David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim)

A single-floor wood-frame building was the first structure built for county use (1857). This modest building was replaced in 1866 by a two-story stone building in the Greek Revival mode. In 1889 the second county courthouse was condemned and torn down. For the third courthouse, the Minneapolis architect T. Dudley Allen supplied a rather personal version of the Richardsonian Romanesque. The two-story building on a raised basement was built of brick with stone trim. It seemingly sits quietly as a backdrop for two features of the design. First, the limestone entrance, with a beautiful deep Richardsonian arch set within it, is quite distinct, and gives the impression that it has been placed separately in front of the building. The second important feature of the design is the tall (133 feet) domed tower whose details are rendered in a light color (in stone and in painted wood and metal); it is played off against the dark red brick walls of the building below. The tower appears as a discrete structure unrelated to the rest of the building.

Remodeling in 1975–1976 replaced the original wood-framed windows with metal-framed single-piece windows set almost flush with the surface of the building. As always, this type of modernization tends to compromise the quality of the masonry of the building. The strength of the courthouse design together with its own ample square and the adjacent public park creates a real civic center for the community.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Franklin County Courthouse", [Hampton, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Iowa, David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 397-398.

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