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.
The Bank of Clemons began in 1901 with a $10,000 capital in a modest wooden building in the business district in Clemons, Iowa. A grandiose two-story brick building was constructed next door, a sign of the bank’s success. By 1927, bank deposits had grown in excess of $340,000. The Bank’s success was short-lived, however, and its doors were closed on August 17, 1931. The Clemsons Saving Bank was one of over a thousand Iowa banks to be closed around the time of the Great Depression.
The building was used as a branch office for the nearby Union-Whitten Savings Bank until 1945. When that office shuttered, the building was first repurposed as a restaurant before being used as a doctor’s office for nearly 40 years. In 1974, the Union-Whitten Savings Bank gave the building to the community of Clemons. The building now serves as the Clemons Community Center.
On December 30, 1901, Marshalltown was awarded a $30,000 grant from the Andrew Carnegie foundation to construct a new public library facility. The corner building opened its doors April 22, 1903, and served the community for the next 105 years. When the Marshalltown Public Library moved to a brand new, single-story facility in December 2008, plans went into motion to repurpose the historic building for local government use.
By September 2010, a $1.3 million renovation was complete, and several city departments had moved to the new quarters. An enclosed connection was added between the Carnegie building and the adjacent City Hall, benefiting both city employees and local residents utilizing government services. A standing-room-only crowd attended the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was held September 14, 2010.
In 2001, operations at the two-screen Orpheum Theater were discontinued as the owners shifted their focus to the growing multiplex at Marshalltown’s mall. When it looked like the Orpheum was destined to be demolished, local citizens formed a non-profit organization, The Orpheum Centre Inc., dedicated to purchasing and restoring the historic theatre, which was originally built as a single-screen movie house in 1948. The organization purchased the building from the Iowa-based Fridley Theatres chain in 2002 and began efforts to renovate and repair the dated facilities. In 2005, the organization partnered with the Iowa Valley Community College district to repurpose the theater as a multi-use facility. The $3.4 million renovation project was completed in July 2010, and the theater reopened with a 4-day celebration that brought more than 1,000 guests.
The revived theater began showing classic movies on the weekends, at a cost of just $3 per ticket. Theatre Director Pip Gordon told the Marshalltown Times-Republican his goal was to “have a family of four get admission, popcorn and a drink for under $20.” Attached to the theater is the Orpheum Coffee Shop, which is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch, serving coffee, smoothies, wraps, ice cream, and more. Community College courses began in the Orpheum in Fall 2010.
For more information, including showtimes, see the Orpheum Theater’s website. Continue reading Orpheum Theater Center (Marshalltown, Iowa)
When Melbourne’s volunteer fire department relocated to a new, modern facility, the City Hall took over the former location, constructed in 1954. The red brick building houses the city offices around with city-owned maintenance vehicles in the garages the fire trucks once sat. Home to nearly 800 residents, the tight-knit community of Melbourne sits along State Highway 330 in southeastern Marshall County, Iowa.
The first weekend of August marks Melbourne’s annual “Mousehole Days” celebration, which originated in the as a car show nearly three decades ago. It snowballed into a full-fledged family event, where residents and visitors alike enjoy a activities held across town, including a parade, softball tournament, and a full slate of games for all ages. The event kicks off each year with the popular fire department fish fry. For more information about Melbourne, check out the official city website.