Monday, November 18, 2013

Marshall County

The kids thought we were going to "Marshmallow-Town" and made me stop at a grocery store to get a bag of marshmallows. This is how we get them to go along with this thing.

Marshalltown erected a statue to their favorite Harry Potter character ... Cornelius Fudge

Jasper County

I went to college in the 90's when Newton Iowa was part of a frantic scientific debate over Charles Murray's book "The Bell Curve". I won't comment on that book here other that to say you shouldn't be surprised when someone of specific political views verifies those views in data.

 In any case, Newton was quite nice. I expected it to be a little run down since they lost Maytag but that was not the case. Things were hopping. Newton now has the Iowa Speedway, a wind turbine company in the old Maytag factory, and is close enough to Des Moines for commuters.

Newton getting ready for Christmas.

Nice veterans memorial

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mahaska County

Hands down Oskaloosa had the best town square of any city we've been to so far. It was jumping with people and activity (for a Sunday morning). It had what looked like a lot of nice restaurants, coffee shops and stores, and most importantly it had an absolutely beautiful band stand. I had a massive urge to get up on it and promise a chicken in every pot.  A+ to the people of Oskaloosa on a revitalization well down.

The Mahaska County Courthouse.

The super cool bandstand.

Chief Mahaska is chillin' in the square.

This place is called "Wangs". Hi I'm 12 years old

Wapello County

The first town we visited in Wapello County was the county seat of Ottumwa. It was an interesting town. It's an industrial (for Iowa) center with lots of meat packing as well as a John Deere factory. You can tell the city was not exactly in it's glory days but it had a quirky character I rather liked. It's downtown still had a little life in it and didn't seem as run down as some other industrial towns.

Here's the Courthouse. You can't see it here but we were being attacked by wasps.

This is a cool church in the town square

The American Gothic House   

The Twins

You can see what Grant Wood saw in the house.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Monroe County

Southern Iowa sure is prettier than northern Iowa (even if the farmland is not as good). The rolling hills, forests and valleys are just so picturesque. Monroe County is easy to overlook but Albia seemed like a nice little town. The  square was revamped a bit more than most and the Courthouse was charming. Apparently they really do it up for Christmas. I'd like to see that.

Lucas County

A lot of these county seats with the classic town squares have done a pretty good job over the years of revitalizing the squares. They're all complete ghost towns on Sunday afternoons though. I don't think I saw a single other person or even a car drive by when we were at the courthouse.

The clock tower used to have a spire on top of it. That would have been a cool addition to an already cool courthouse.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Clarke County

By the time we got to Clarke County on this trip we were pretty tired. Although the courthouse was a derpy 1950's building, the town square was nice. It even had a bandstand where a real life band was setting up.

Clark County Courthouse

There was also a hardware store with these nice mannequins wearing dresses made of paint sample cards.

Who's ready for a montage?!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Warren County

We visited Warren County during the National Balloon Classic.   The kids loved it but the smaller ones were running out of steam at the end of the day. They do "night burns" which sounds pretty cool. We plan on going back next year and staying for that.

The courthouse is a nice solid classical architecture with some cool details. Not as lavish as some but better than the modern ones for sure.

The courthouse also has this nice lady.

This store is empty but man what a sign! I want to open a 1950's diner or night club in it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Story County

For some weird reason nobody can quite figure out Ames is not the county seat of Story County. That honor goes to Ames ugly sister city Nevada. It's another county with a lame modern courthouse.

After our obligatory stop in Nevada we went to  Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in neighboring Ames Iowa. the kids love this place.

Hamilton County

We were tricked! Hamilton has a newish 1970's courthouse right off of highway 20. No cool town square, no awesomely eccentric old time building. I'm sure it's very convenient and nice for the people who want to use county services but let's face it. It's L A M E.

It turns out there there is another "original" courthouse. I didn't learn about this until after we got home. I'm only partially checking Hamilton off the list. If we happen to be driving by Webster City again we will try and find the OG Courthouse. 

Have You Seen This Courthouse?

Webster County

I've never been to Fort Dodge but I can now say that it's everything everyone has ever said it was.

The Courthouse is cool. It's also right next to a string of classy bars (like "plan-b"), porn stores, abandoned buildings and Steve Kings campaign headquarters. Stay classy Fort Dodge.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Boone County

Finding the Boone County courthouse was a little hard. Apparently the county seat used to be in a different town called Boonesboro. Boone (originally named "Montana") expanded and eventually annexed Boonesboro and changed it's name to Boone. Which explains why the courthouse is several miles from "downtown" Boone.

Boon County's Couthouse
The courthouse is in the classic American " Renaissance Revival" style.

We also stopped at Ledges State Park In Boone County

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Polk County

Polk County is our home base. Here we are at the awesome Des Moines farmers market with our lovely Beaux-Arts style couthouse in the background. This is another Proudfoot and Bird building.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Marion County

Marion County's courthouse in Knoxville is quite nice. I like the color. We also visited Pella Iowa.

The open area under the clock tower is a nice feature.

I've always found Pella to be a little creepy. In a Stepford Wives kind of way.

Dallas County

We also got some sweet corn in Adel Iowa. Fun Des Moines connection: The couthouse was designed by the Des Moines firm of Proudfoot & Bird who also did many civic structures like Roosevelt and Lincoln High Schools, the ISU memorial union, Hotel Fort Des Moines, and the Drake Library.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Madison County

Our quest begins in Madison County. Home to the famous bridges. We agreed that Madison is almost aggressively picturesque.

The courhouse cost $120,000 when it was built. You just can't make your dollar stretch like you used to.

 We also stopped at several of the famous covered bridges.Several years ago someone was going around burning them down. I guess they really didn't like the book. The remaining ones have surveillance systems.