||Henry County Courthouse
1839 - 1872
HENRY COUNTY COURTHOUSE #1
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 ¼ 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
||Henry County Courthouse
1871 - 1914
HENRY COUNTY COURTHOUSE #2
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 #3
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