Marshall County Courthouse (Marshalltown, Iowa)

Marshall County Courthouse (Marshalltown, Iowa)

By 1972, the state fire marshall was threatening to evict county government because the aging Marshall County Courthouse failed to meet fire codes. That year, county supervisors asked voters to approve a bond issue for a new courthouse facility for the third time since 1954, but the vote failed again with only 48.3% of voters in favor of the new construction.

Following the failed vote, the grassroots “Friends of the Courthouse” organization was established with the purpose to prove to voters and officials the aging courthouse could and should be renovated. They were quickly able to get the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and hired Chicago-based architect Ben Weese to analyze renovation of the historic facility.

While the supervisors favored a new courthouse, the League of Women Voters agreed to organize a referendum held February 26, 1974, to move forward with the a formal study to assess the costs and process for courthouse renovation. The issue carried 22 of the county’s 23 precincts with the support of over 60% of voters.  In October, a $3.2 million bond issue for renovation was approved with an even larger margin of victory: 70.8% of voters supported the project.

County offices were moved to the 1894 old high school building so renovation could begin. Government offices remained there for nearly three years before the courthouse construction work was completed in June 1978. The revitalized Marshall County Courthouse was rededicated November 19, 1978. The ceremony was preceded by a parade and band concert.

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