Monday, September 19, 2016

Cerro Gordo County Courthouse

We were in Mason City, Iowa for a political event today, and just had enough time to find the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse ten minutes before it closed.  We walked inside and up the stairs to see a courtroom...and barely managed to leave before the building was locked.
The court administrator, a lady named Deb, kindly unlocked the main courtroom for us to see.  And she told us a little about the courthouse's history.

In 1855, when the county was formed, Mason City was selected as the county seat.  However, in 1856, three commissioners appointed by the state legislature chose a town called Livonia instead, and a courthouse was built there.  In 1857, more than half the people of the county signed a petition to return the seat to Mason City, and the next year it was returned.

Court was held in two different courthouses in Mason City before the county purchased the current courthouse, formerly the Standard Oil Building, for $159,400.  It was remodeled, and came into service in 1960.
Clockwise from top left: Deb in her office, the entrance, the foyer and offices, Courtroom #1.
Cerro Gordo is another county with a name with roots in the Mexican-American War.  The Battle of Cerro Gordo was fought near Mexico City in 1847.  General Winfield Scott defeated General Santa Anna, who just five years before had won the Battle of the Alamo.  

General Santa Anna escaped on horseback--without his artificial leg, which was captured by the Illinois Volunteer Infantry and is on display at the Illinois State Military Museum.
Outside the courthouse is a monument dedicated to those who served and gave their lives in "the World War."  The courthouse seemed clean, practical, and modern.

A few blocks down, I noticed a Civil War-era monument in the park across from the city hall, but that part of town did not seem nice.  There were too many people loitering around the park for my country/small-town tastes.  And, as we walked over to the mall for dinner, I noticed cigarette butts everywhere!  Apparently downtown Mason City smokers have forgotten the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Litter."
But I know Mason City is better than that.  Consider my post from 2013 about an awesome Civil War re-enactment.  

Another nice thing about Mason City is since it is the home to Music Man Square, there are plenty of pianos!  We stopped to play a few songs at this one outside the mall.  We had a good trip...and I'll be posting about the political event we attended soon!

26 comments:

  1. Definitely courthouse is modern and similar to european ones

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    1. The exterior did remind me of some of the buildings you've posted photos of.

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  2. Thanks for sharing the interesting bits of history...I have not thought about those in your part of the country being involved in the Mexican-American War.

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    1. I imagine they must have been involved in the war before they moved to Iowa. But I have been surprised by how many counties are named in remembrance of the war and its heroes.

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  3. Fascinating history here, Bethany, and I really enjoyed the photos!

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  4. So interesting! Thank you for another great post, Bethany! God bless you, my friend. :)

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  5. Thanks for the mini history lesson. : )

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  6. Hi Bethany, Another fine report, this time on Cerro Gordo County Courthouse. I must say that when you do a series of reports, like the Courthouses, you sure do a fine job including several photographs and interesting bits of history. Somehow, in history class, I missed that Santa Anna made it all the way up to Iowa! In this post it was fun to learn that you play the piano. Please let me put in my request for a YouTube with you playing some of your favorites on the piano! :-)

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    1. Ahhh...I just edited my post to clarify that the Battle of Cerro Gordo was fought near Mexico City. I'm afraid I was a bit vague. The folks from Illinois fought down there, and my guess is some of them must have moved to Iowa after the war.

      Thank you for your kind comment. I'm afraid I'm slightly rusty on my piano-playing, but I will put your request down on my list! I better get back to practicing. Youtube videos have a way of capturing every mistake and playing them back to haunt the amateur pianist!

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  7. I think it is so exciting that you find historical and political places to visit and see! My family loves history, and my dad keeps us into the political world as well. We've traveled all over the east coast to see historical places, focusing namely on the American Revolution and the first Great Awakening. It's always exciting to find someone else who shares that passion!

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    1. Oooh, sounds like you must have visited some pretty awesome places! I'm heading over to your blog to see what you have posted! Nice to meet you in the blogosphere.

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  8. It's always fun reading about your adventures. Too bad about the littering. It is one of my pet peeves. I wish people didn't use the planet as a garbage can.

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    1. Agreed. People should be thoughtful and try to leave everything as nice--or nicer--than when they arrived. Leaving a trail of trash is not cool...

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  9. i see a lot of old courthouses that are really pretty, ones that have not been updated. i really like older buildings, especially for this use!!

    i am so sick of smokers leaving their butts everywhere. so often they leave them and they are still lit. i am tired of saying something to them, they are often very harsh and don't get that it's litter!!!!

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    1. I love the old courthouses as well.

      I think we are fortunate at how much society has come around to the no-littering, no-smoking perspective. From what I've heard from older relatives about the smoking and littering situations a few decades back, it must have been terrible!

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  10. A beautiful picture. So thankful for the kind lady who shared with you. Hope you have a lovely day.

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  11. I love all of the history here! And I LOVE the pianos! That is wild that they are just sitting out for anyone to play!

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    1. It was a pleasant surprise. There was one inside the mall and one outside it.

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  12. Another good one and that last photo is brilliant.

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