SIOUX CITY -- With a special building that has been around for 100 years, Woodbury County officials have set a lot of ways to experience and celebrate the Woodbury County Courthouse in the first week of May.

The list of centennial activities are set for for May 1-5. Each day has a theme, with the final day falling on a Saturday so people who have weekday jobs can more easily attend.

Throughout the week, there will be some so-called lunch-and-learn sessions, led by people from national universities who are well versed on the building's architecture. There will be live tours hourly in the building.

Plus, using smart phone technology, people outside the facility will be able to experience a virtual tour, with music and voices explaining key building facets.

"Our goal is bringing the past into the future," Woodbury County Historical Committee co-chairman Jim Jung said. “Throughout the celebration, people will be able to be involved in events that will reveal its unique features as well as recent and past history."

Designed by famed architect William Steele, the courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1996. The descendants of Steele, who live other Upper Plains states, will attend the May festivities.

The building is known for its Prairie School design, with intricate terra cotta, Alphonso Iannelli sculpted figures, and large murals constructed around themes of justice and agrarian life.

The week won't line up directly with the 100th anniversary, since the courthouse at 620 Douglas St. opened in March 1918. The committee chose May as the best time for the centennial activities, in order to avoid late winter weather.

Jeremy Taylor, a member of the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors and a Historical Committee co-chairman, said he is proud of the breadth of opportunities for the week. Taylor said the events will likely have a national draw, so special events were set for "this rare gem of a building."

The list of events is as follows:


11 a.m. -- Proclamation and rededication of the time capsule

Noon -- Lunch & Learn: Historic Architect Pete Franks, "The Value of the Historic Courthouse and the Uniqueness of the Magnificent Gem" Courtroom 203.

1:30 p.m. -- Presentation: University of South Dakota's Dean of Law School Thomas Geu, "The Separation of Powers: A Framework for Freedom," Courtroom 203.

3 p.m. -- Presentation: Historic Cases, Retired Judge Michael Walsh, "100 Years of Justice in Woodbury County," Courtroom 203.

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Noon -- Lunch & Learn: Matt Anderson, Curator of History, "Exhibit Tour of the Chicago Origins of the Courthouse," Sioux City Public Museum.

2 p.m.-- Presentation: Kenny Schmitz, Woodbury County Building Services Director, and Norman Mahoney, Sioux City Brick & Tile, "Restoring Efforts of the Past for the Generations of the Future."


9 a.m. -- Hourly live tours start, last one begins 3 p.m.

10 a.m. -- Unveiling of the virtual smartphone tour.


9 a.m. -- Hourly live tours for children begin, last one begins 3 p.m.

Noon -- Presentation of essay winners from local schools.


The special dinner requires reservations. Tickets are $50 per person.

5:30 p.m. -- Social hour in the courthouse rotunda.

6:15 p.m. -- Opening remarks/dinner

7  p.m. -- Presentations by Tim Samuelson, Curator of History of the City of Chicago, and Guy Wilson, Professor of Architectural History for University of Virginia: "The Woodbury County Courthouse and William Steele's American Architecture."

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County & Education Reporter

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