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!