28 August 2003
| 318 Leroy St.
PWA-Era County Courthouses of IA MPS
Osceola County Courthouse, Chickasaw County Courthouse, Buena Vista County C, Ida County Courthouse, Tama County Courthouse
The Audubon County Court House in Audubon, Iowa, United States was built in 1940. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 as a part of the PWA-Era County Courthouses of IA Multiple Properties Submission. The courthouse is the third building the county has used for court functions and county administration.
Audubon County Court House Wikipedia
After the county was established in 1851 court was held in a schoolhouse in Hamlin’s Grove. Ten years later, the county seat relocated to Exira and a fight ensued as to where the county seat should be located. The board of supervisors made an appropriation for a new courthouse in 1871 but it was delayed due to the disagreement. Exira eventually won and officials constructed a courthouse for about $2,200. The county seat was again moved in 1879 to Audubon. The county secured $7,000 in 1884 to build a new courthouse. The 44 by 100 foot building featured a central tower and was demolished in 1939 to make way for the current structure.
In July 1938, a citizens group encouraged the county board of supervisors to apply for funding from the Public Works Administration (PWA) to build a new courthouse. The grant was approved in August of the same year and a referendum was passed by voters the following month. Des Moines architects Keffer & Jones designed the new building. Construction bids came in well below the estimates and so the bonds were sold at a lower interest rate. The PWA grant was amended to include a new jail in the building. A 96-year-old Civil War veteran turned the first shovelful of dirt to start construction. J.C. Mayer of Clarion, Iowa was awarded the contract to construct the building in December 1938 and it was completed at a final cost of $133,000. The courtroom was first used February 15, 1940, and county offices opened in the building a short time later. The dedication ceremony was held on June 11, 1940 with the celebration including a parade, baseball games and a county historical pageant. Dr. Thomas Niven of First Presbyterian Church in Omaha, Nebraska gave the keynote address. The old courthouse was torn down after the new one was opened.
The architectural style of the building is known as Depression Modern or PWA Moderne. The building features a symmetrical façade with a central section of two stories that is flanked by two lower sections. It is built over a raised basement. The exterior is composed of buff colored brick and Bedford limestone trim. On the interior the central corridors extend the length of the building. Vaults were built into the corners of the structure with the county offices opening onto the corridor. The interior featured multi-colored terrazzo floors, marble wainscoting and acoustic tile. Originally, the courtroom was decorated in dark wood tones and Art Deco ornamentation.