The first post office in the Monona County seat of Onawa was established in 1855 and consisted of a few boxes in the corner of the Fairchild General Store. After locations in a number of local storefronts, bids were opened for a standalone post office building in May 1936. The contract was awarded to the H.W. Underhill Construction Company of Wichita, Kansas, on August 20, 1936. Work was completed at a cost of $49,720 in April 1937.
The WPA-era building’s lobby features an oil-on-canvas mural named Soil Erosion and Control. The mural, painted by Lee Allen, was carried out under the program of the “Section of Fine Arts, Federal Works Agency, Public Building Administrations,” which was established to decorate Federal buildings with murals and sculpture. Approximately 1% of the building cost was dedicated for this decoration.
Postal service was established in the Monona County town of Mapleton in June 1858 with H.D. Warren named the first postmaster. The first rural route was established in 1903, while city delivery began on September 1, 1916. The present, 3,000-square-feet brick facility opened in October 1960.
The Monona County town of Soldier was established by the Western Town Lot Company in 1899, nearly thirty years after postal service was first established at the site. The name comes from the nearby Soldier River, which received its name because of an anonymous U.S. soldier buried in the area. The town was formally incorporated in 1901.
The Monona County town of Castana was established by the Western Town Lot Company in July 1886. The reason for the town’s name is unknown, but two of the theories noted in A Dictionary of Iowa Place-Names by Tom Savage are below:
One story about the town’s name was that a Mr. Day thought that the oak trees growing in the area resembled chestnuts, so he called the site Castana. He thought the name was the Latin term for chestnuts… Another story is that the name came from a place in Asia Minor.
The town was incorporated on March 3, 1891. Construction began on the pictured town hall building in 1936; work completed and the building opened the following year.
The Monona County Courthouse in Onawa in western Iowa dates to 1892, when construction was completed on the brick building with stone trim. The Richardson Romanesque building was designed by S.E. Maxon, who also designed the courthouse in Greenfield in Adair. The building saw additions in 1967 and 1973, along with the construction of an annex in 1981 for additional court and human services facilities. The Monona County Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.