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Decatur County Courthouse

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1907–1908, Smith, Wetherell and Gage. Courthouse Square, 1 block east of Iowa 69

The tale of the earlier courthouses for Decatur County is a saga of damage and destruction by windstorms, fire, and dynamiting by would-be burglars. The county's third courthouse, built in 1875, was a two-story brick Italianate structure, with pavilions on each facade articulated by segmental curved roofs. At the center of the cruciform-plan building was a central open cupola surmounted by a small dome and augmented by high finials at each corner. Because of the damage caused to the building's foundation by the dynamiting of 1877, and also because of a lack of careful repair, the building was finally torn down and replaced by the present building in 1907.

The present courthouse is based upon the Edwardian classical brick-and-stone buildings being erected in England at that time. The design could loosely be termed Georgian Revival, with a touch of the English Arts and Crafts. Its strongest features are the circular eye dormer windows, the central tower with its four clock faces, and the small drum and dome.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Decatur County Courthouse", [Leon, 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, 331-331.

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