In late July, Yai and I visited the Franklin County Courthouse in Hampton, Iowa before meeting with my friend and fellow-blogger Nela at Plaza Veracruz. Franklin County was formed in 1851, organized in 1855, and named for Benjamin Franklin. The city of Hampton was originally called Benjamin, but was renamed since there was, apparently, another city named Benjamin in the state at the time.
The Hampton courthouse features Romanesque Revival architecture, and is one of the most beautiful courthouses I've visited so far. Completed in 1891, it cost $60,000 to construct.
The current courthouse was preceded by two others. The first was built in 1857 and measured 18x30 feet. The second was a two-story limestone building built in 1866, which measured 48x70 feet. It was condemned after a relatively short time "by reason of decrepitude, and indications of falling down."
The clock in the tower of today's courthouse was donated by the graduating class of 1892. Unfortunately for me, like at many other courthouses, visitors are not allowed up into clock tower because of insurance policies.
I love the checkered pattern in the rotunda on the main floor. Originally five statues guarded the building. The statue of Justice was badly damaged in a windstorm and had to be replaced. The new Justice statue tops the courthouse.
The other four statues--representing Law, Agriculture, Commerce or Industry, and Mercy or Peace--were restored and moved to the rotunda; however, only three were there when I visited.
The ladies in the auditor's office were very nice and informative, and told me about some of the history. Auditor Michelle Giddings is shown in her office above.
Near the door are a few displays with items and photographs from various towns in the county. Upstairs, I stopped by the Clerk of Court's office, and they let me see the courtroom, which had been locked, as repairs had just been done.
I was delightfully surprised to find a stained glass window by the Magistrate Office. I believe this is the first I have seen in a courthouse.
We headed outside and took a look at the veteran's memorial. I noticed people sitting near the courthouse steps on the far side of the building, so we walked over. And...lo, and behold, there was Rick and Deb Grote!
The Grotes own Rick's Pharmacy, across the street from the courthouse. They go to the church where Nela's father is pastor, and we've run into them on many occasions.
On the day we visited the courthouse,they were running the Franklin County Bible Reading Marathon in response to Governor Branstad's proclamation encouraging all Iowans to congregate at the 99 courthouses of the state and read through the Bible in a week.
Yai and I had about an hour to burn, so we decided to join in. The Grotes had to leave for a while, so we read with the lady on duty at the time, Cindy (above).
Unfortunately, I hadn't been expecting to spend time reading the Bible on this trip, so all I had in the car was a Gideons' New Testament...and that wasn't much help since they were reading through Ecclesiastes!
Cindy kindly lent us her Bible, and she, Yai, and I took turns reading until it was time to go...and someone else arrived to take over.
Later in the evening we stopped back before heading home to find more people out reading the Bible. If I recall correctly, they were in Isaiah. It was interesting to hear them stop and share their thoughts on the various passages.
I enjoyed my time at the Franklin County Courthouse. The building itself is beautiful, and the discussions I encountered there were very edifying.