The town of Onawa was platted in 1857 some 5 miles east of the Missouri River. In the following year the community became the seat of Monona County. The Monona County Courthouse (1891–1892) is a picturesque rendition of the Richardsonian Romanesque, due largely to a varied roofscape. A tall tower with a pyramidal roof looks down on the main roofs, which are broken up by gables and wall dormers, many with finials. This two-and-a-half-story brick building with stone trim was designed by S. E. Maxon. It is located within the Courthouse Square north of Iowa Avenue.
Close to the courthouse is the Iowa Theater (c. 1937), whose marquee and street facade assert both the Art Deco and the Streamline Moderne styles. In addition to the eye-catching design of the V-shaped marquee with projecting lettering and neon bands, there is to the right of the marquee a set of three narrow ascending windows of glass brick, each with its own hooded top. These and the marquee provide visual excitement at night.
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