Three miles below Humboldt, the Des Moines River divides into two branches. On the east fork of the river is Dakota City, the location of the Humboldt County Courthouse. Just west of Dakota City is Humboldt, situated on the west fork of the river. The community of Humboldt was laid out in 1863 in conjunction with the establishment of Humboldt College (1869–1926). In addition to the large site for the college at its north end, the town grid plan contained a central four-block park, a skating park, plus other blocks set aside for other parks, schools, and a cemetery. The main building of Humboldt College (no longer standing) was in the form of an elaborate Italian villa with raised basement.
In John Brown Park is a stone mosaic fountain, the Fay Hessian Fountain. This fountain was built in 1916 by Father Paul M. Dobberstein, the designer of the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend. The bowl-like form of the fountain is composed of thousands of stones gathered from all over the world. Above this rise marble statues of local young women. At the southeast corner of Taft Street and Avenue N is the Congregational Church (c. 1903). This limestone ashlar block church was inspired by medieval English churches. At the base of its corner crenellated tower is a handsome wooden entrance porch with delicate patterned sawed work in its gable.
At the north edge of town, on the west side of US 169 and overlooking the Des Moines River, is a Streamline Moderne house, the Bellows house of 1937–1938, at 6 Thirteenth Street North. The dominant feature of the cream-colored brick residence is its two-story curved wing and the abstract layered design of the overlapping planes of its chimney.
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