Saturday, October 22, 2016

Franklin County Courthouse

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.

24 comments:

  1. Wow! I can't imagine a governor encouraging people to read the Bible, and on the courthouse lawn, to boot! This sounds like something I would read about many years ago, not in 2016! Your part of the country must be a lot more conservative than ours, and it is a wonderful thing to hear about. Praise God for those who are still hungering and thirsting after God and righteousness. I think often of Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." If only America had more governors like yours! Thank you for sharing this. The courthouse is so lovely, but the part of the Bible reading is what truly blessed me!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sort of like the Mid-West. ;) Blessings to you, Cheryl!

      Delete
  2. That is wonderful about the governor offering that encouragement. I am surprised there isn't an outcry by some to separate church and state. I am afraid that would happen here.
    That building is just beautiful and you got some great pictures. How great that they let you into a locked courtroom!
    Hope you have a blessed Sunday- xo Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The proclamation is carefully phrased. I think a few groups were upset about it. But Iowans are generally pleasantly laid-back. No one had to do it, and no one hurt anybody by doing it...so it worked out fine.

      I was surprised at how many people turned out to read in the various counties.

      Delete
  3. Bethany the building is really impressive and nice inside. Greetings from Poland

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Bethany! Your first two comments (from Cheryl and NanaDiana) touched on my first joy with this post. Who has EVER heard of a Governor encouraging reading of the Bible on Courthouse steps? My, oh my. I must go and Google Governor Branstad and see what else he has been up to. His request to read the Bible moves him, and Iowa, way up in my view of the political arena. The Franklin County Courthouse is a pretty amazing bit of architecture too. I love the stained glass! Now, how are you doing on your efforts to become an “insurance inspector”? (Non-regular readers of your blog may not understand my reason for asking that question … ha ha.) Another fine post, indeed. Thanks, as always, for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh! Still no luck on my insurance inspector plans ;). You know, in The Rockford Files, Jim Rockford has a special instant business-card printing machine that he uses to print up cards for whatever cover he needs. I bet he'd have no trouble getting up into the clock towers as an "inspector!"

      Delete
  5. Yes to the above comments! This is not only an interesting, but an encouraging post, Bethany! Thanks for making time to publish it! xx

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think it is great that a governor would encourage reading The Bible! And this building is beautiful and prestigious, and I love the stained glass, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really like the architectural style on this one.

      Delete
  7. What a beautiful building and so encouraging that the governor would encourage the reading of the Bible.
    The stained glass window is so pretty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not every day I see a stained glass window in a courthouse.

      Delete
  8. Bummer about not being allowed in the tower.

    I like that one window there. Very pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Such an uplifting post about the Bible reading. The building is magnificent and I enjoyed the photos so very much.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You find the best buildings to visit! This one is beautiful, but even better is the Bible reading marathon. I love that the governor initiated it and how special that you could take part.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some folks asked the governor to do it, and he complied. I was pretty surprised myself! But I did enjoy my time with those reading through the Bible in Hampton.

      Delete
  11. That's too bad about the tower. It would be such a treat to visit that. But all in all, it sounds like a really lovely time. It is quite a beautiful building!

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a beautiful building! I like the clock tower. :)
    Wow, your governor encouraged Bible reading at the courthouses?! That is so awesome!
    I tagged you for the Blogger Recognition Award. Here is the link to my post, should you choose to join in. :) https://styleforreallife.blogspot.com/2016/10/tag-blogger-recognition-award.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for thinking of me, Paige! I will take a look. :)

      Delete