On August 1st, Yai and I visited the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo, Iowa. Just over the Cedar River and a couple blocks down in East Waterloo, the current courthouse, built in 1964, features International Style architecture.
Coming in to the building, we had to go through security and have our bags checked. Unlike most of the courthouses I've visited in smaller towns, this one was very busy. Waterloo, with a population of 68,406, is the sixth-largest city in the state.
The lady at the desk told me I could look at the two small courtrooms on the first floor. Then she called upstairs to make sure everything was fine for me to see the main courtroom, and we headed up.
Upstairs, we met the Honorable Andrea Dryer, who kindly took the time to show us one of the small courtrooms on the second floor, and the main courtroom. I was surprised and delighted. It's not every day that a judge offers a tour!
Judge Dryer was appointed by Governor Branstad in 2011 after serving as an assistant public defender in Black Hawk County in 2004. She was retained in the 2012 election to serve until 2018.
Black Hawk County was formed in 1843, and was named for Sauk Chief Black Hawk. Black Hawk fought with the British against the United States in the War of 1812, hoping to protect his tribe's territory. He also led a band of the Sauk and Fox in the Black Hawk War of 1832 against settlers in Illinois and Wisconsin.
He was captured by U.S. troops after the war, and taken to tour several cities. After his release he, with the help of an interpreter and newspaper reporter, published the first Native American autobiography in the United States, Black Hawk, Embracing the Traditions of his Nation, which became a best-seller.
An image of Chief Black Hawk watches over the main courtroom.
The walls in the hallways leading to the county offices looked to be marble, and gave the building a very sophisticated appearance.
Before we left, we visited the courthouse basement--and found a cafeteria! The lady working there, Yvonne, said they had about 60-70 regular customers, if I recall. And she let me take home a copy of the menu, which was filled with all sorts of goodies. If I remember correctly, it was taco buffet day.
Not many courthouses have their own restaurant. The Black Hawk County Courthouse is really a full-service deal.