Residents of the Humboldt County community of Rutland celebrated in August 1967 when Postmaster General Lawrence F. O’Brien announced that a contract had been awarded to remodel the interior of the Rutland Post Office building. Air-conditioning was added to the 475-square-foot building, which still serves as the community post office today. A few minor changes have been made since 1967, including the addition of the ramp, a permanent flag pole and installation of a full-size mailbox.
Postal service in the Humboldt County community of Ottosen dates to November 1895, when a post office was first opened within a local siding business near the railroad tracks. The Ottosen office became the first in Humboldt County to have rural routes attached to it, with the first created in 1902. A second was created in 1903, then consolidated in 1932 as delivery methods grew more efficient. Further consolidation has taken place since, with the route now split among several area post offices.
The Ottosen Post Office moved to its present location in February 1957. As of April 2011, the Fort Dodge Messenger is reporting the office may close.
In 1948, the newly-formed Ottosen Commercial Club began to accept donations to construct a new community center for the Humboldt County Community. Construction was quickly completed, mostly by volunteer labor, with an official dedication held August 1948. The center continues to serve the community, with hundreds of dances, card parties, and other events held over the past six decades.
The Humboldt Independent touted the July 1928 opening of the Humota Theatre as “more proof that Humboldt was a prospering little city.” The Humota was considered to be one of the finest in northwest Iowa, with fireproof walls, state-of-the-art “moving picture machines,” leather-cushioned seats, and attractive side lighting. The name was proposed by resident John Green as a combination of the adjacent Humboldt and Dakota City. “Humota” was chosen over suggested alteratives including “Idelhour,” “Dreamland,” “Taft,” and others.
The first picture shown at the theatre was “The Cossacks,” a silent black-and-white film considered to be one of the best productions of 1928. Though a specific count wasn’t provided, the Independent wrote the new movie house drew a “splendid crowd” on its opening evening and a “success both considering the entertainment and the reception of the new building by the public.”
A major remodeling project in 1983 added the metal exterior along with entirely new auditorium seating. Additional upgrades were made to the theatre in 2008, when cup holders were added to seats, a new screen was installed, and a digital surround stereo was implemented. Movies are shown twice daily at the Fridley Theatre-owned single-screen theatre with an additional matinee showing on Saturdays and Sundays.
While Dakota City has only one-fifth the population of adjacent Humboldt, it has retained its status as county seat since Humboldt County was established in June 1857. As the adjacent town of Humboldt (then called Springvale) grew, several challenges were made to Dakota City’s status as county seat, and a proposal in 1872 to combine the communities and build a new courthouse building failed. A red brick courthouse was ultimately constructed in Dakota City in 1873, though the county seat location remained a controversial topic.
As businesses and churches relocated from Dakota City to Humboldt, the residents of Humboldt grew emboldened in their beliefs the county seat should be relocated. Humboldt resident T.W. Rogers argued in 1910 that “Dakota City had no sewerage, fire protection or police… there is no lawyer, doctor, bank, large store or any business enterprises.” He highlighted the lack of a restaurant or hotel, noting out-of-towners with courthouse business had to stay in Humboldt and walk to Dakota City.
In 1918, a vote to merge the towns failed, with Dakota City residents voting 56 to 45 to stay separated. In 1923, a proposal to replace the dilapidated courthouse in Dakota City was met with strong opposition from Humboldt residents. In 1936, the Works Projects Administration stepped in and helped the citizens of Humboldt County with $185,000 for use in construction of a new courthouse. A bond issue to add $95,000 to the WPA contribution passed easily, and the current (pictured) courthouse was ready for occupancy in 1939. The courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.