O'Brien County was organized in 1860, and Primghar, which lies almost exactly in the center of the county, became the county seat. The present O'Brien County Courthouse, located at the junction of US 59 and route B40, is the third within Primghar. It is a particularly strong example of the Beaux-Arts Classical tradition of the second decade of this century. The Des Moines firm of Smith and Keffer devised a variation on the theme of a building on a podium with classical columns in their 1916–1917 courthouse. The center section of the entrance facade contains a row of six thick Tuscan columns forming a porch which is contained on each side by narrow ends defined by pilasters. The architects emphasized horizontality by treating the ground floor (the podium base) and the entablature/cornice area on top as two bands that act as a beginning and conclusion for the central section. The building is sheathed in limestone, and there are polished marble and bronze details inside.
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