Here you will find the history of Henry County Courthouse.

  Henry County, Iowa - History

Henry County Courthouse - 1840 Henry County Courthouse
1839 - 1872

The first County Courthouse in Iowa was built in Central Park in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa with receipts from the sale of lots from a preempted section of public lands and subscriptions plus donations of materials and labor in 1839 and was occupied in 1840. Even before the county was established in its final form, efforts were instituted to construct a courthouse in the center of the public square and a petition with a subscription list appended was presented at the second meeting of the Supervisor's Court held on Monday, February 13, 1837. Citizens responded generously with $642.50 with considerable amount subscribed in property. A survey was ordered and six months credit was given in the sale of lots to the highest bidder. Sealed bids were received by the supervisors on April 10, 1837. The lots yielded less than anticipated. The Supervisors decided the money from subscriptions and etc. was not enough so nothing was done for nine months. In May of 1838 seven enterprising citizens were appointed to proceed with the project. They notified the public that they would receive bids for 100,000 bricks delivered on the public square on or before August 10, 1838. The building was to be 24' square and two stories high with 10' ceilings. Funds were raised by subscription, brick and lumber delivered and work was begun. The money the county commissioners had in the County Treasurer was planned to be used for a jail but the County paid $289.69. The building was built and paid for without a bond issue or any special tax levies. The sale of the land probably yielded considerable revenue with the appointment of a county agent to sell the land. After a lagging fall and winter work progressed and the building was substantially completed by the close of 1839. A planned cupola was never built. The full cost was never definitely recorded but was estimated to be between three and four thousand dollars. It was a handsome building at one time for which the county was proud. It lasted from 1839 to 1872 when it was demolished. The old courthouse stood in the exact center of the square, had four entrances, one on each side and with sidewalks leading to the four sides of the Square. Later the entrance on the east side was closed in order to make more office room. While the county offices were fairly satisfactory in the courthouse the arrangements for the courts were unsatisfactory, and in the mid-sixties an arrangement was made with Mr. Henry Ambler and E. L. Penn for the rental of the third story of the Union Block on the north side of the square and to be adapted to the necessities of the court. It was also believed the second story courtroom in the first building was not safe to hold large meetings so it was used for storage.

Henry County Courthouse 1871-1914 Henry County Courthouse
1871 - 1914

At the April, 1871 session of the board of supervisors a contract was entered into between the board and W.R. Hill, a prominent merchant, for the lease of the Hill business block which was built in 1870 at the southeast corner of the square. The lease was for a period of ten years beginning January 1, 1872 and at a rental of $1,000 per year. The terms of the lease provided for the remodeling of the interior to private rooms for the county offices and the district court. It was also agreed that the work would be completed by November 1, 1871 at which date the county was to take possession and a provision stated that the county could purchase the building at the end of a year at the fixed price of $10,000 if the people of Henry County would vote affirmatively on the proposal. It was approved by a large majority (2260-426) and became the Henry County Courthouse until 1914 when the present courthouse was occupied. The second courthouse was sold to the highest bidder on August 4, 1914 to be wrecked and removed within 60 days. The second courthouse had a wood furnace and gas lights. Of the several buildings considered for purchase the Hill building was chosen because of the large basement in which to store wood. A new building, built especially for a courthouse, could not be considered as the county had very little money to spend because of money invested and lost in railroads that were never built.

Henry County Courthouse  Henry County Courthouse

By 1911, Citizens of Henry County wanted and needed a better courthouse. On December 23, 1911, revised plans submitted by architect Royer of the stone courthouse, 82' x 106' were accepted. By May 12, 1912 excavation was started in the center of the whole courthouse block for the $100,000 new courthouse. By March 27, 1914, the decorator started to work and equipment installation began. It was finished and occupied August 4, 1914. The total cost of the project was about $150,000 including the cost of real estate purchased. The brick jail house which stood immediately south of the previous jail was moved to the present site of our law center. The Hill brick home which was located about in the center of the west side of the courthouse block was moved across the street west and additions made. Hallie Ott, the last granddaughter descendant, in Mt. Pleasant lived in the house until it was torn down and the area was used as a parking lot. Several other residences were either moved or demolished to make the courthouse lawn suitable for such a large building. The supervisors at this time were M.W. Harshbarger, C. W. Gamble and John R. Hughes. In 1912 the Mt. Pleasant brick and tile factory, west end of Monroe St., made over 700,000 bricks that were used in the construction.

Research by Ruth Mallams in 1976


Fall colors at Geode State Park

Fall colors at Geode State Park

Low sun at Geode State Park