Woodbury County Courthouse

A meeting will be in the Woodbury County Courthouse on Monday, when proposed fiscal year 2016-17 salaries for nine elected officials will be discussed.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal file

SIOUX CITY | The massive and visually stunning Woodbury County Courthouse not only is home to dozens of employees but also draws people from across the nation.

A stained glass dome that's the center of the two-story base quickly attracts the eyes of visitors inside. Large lights provide illumination when the dome is lighted at night.

The courthouse, which opened in March 1918 at 620 Douglas St., houses courtrooms and most county departments. The edifice was designed by famous architect William Steele in the Prairie School style of architecture.

The building succeeded the former county building, which had been used since 1875 at the southeast corner of Sixth and Pierce streets (now the location of the Orpheum Building). That facility was outgrown by 1914, when the County Board researched construction of a new courthouse.

The cornerstone for the new courthouse was laid in July 1916, and the building opened less than two years later.

County residents approved a $500,000 bond issue, and the final cost came in at $850,000, or just over 50 cents per square foot.

Elaborate terra cotta trim decorates the exterior. Above the west doors, an immense figure symbolizes the Spirit of Law.

The interior of the building is decorated with a series of murals by John Warner Norton on the main floor. Four murals represent a primitive court, rural farm life, urban life and a tribute to the soldiers of World War I. 

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1996. As some modernization changes have been made, county officials have been careful to keep the historic nature of the building intact, working through a process subject to review by the State Historical Society of Iowa and National Park Service.

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County and education reporter

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