Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oldest Courthouse West of the Mississippi

Van Buren county's courthouse, built in 1840 is the oldest operational courthouse west of the Mississippi and the second oldest in the United States. The federalist styles structure was completed in 1843 and was the largest building west of the Mississippi then. It was placed on the national historic register in 1877 as is stated on the plaque near the front door. Notice the glass window at the top, it was built very much after the style used for the Nauvoo Temple.
The plates you see on the outside of the building just above the windows are the ends of the tie rods. As you go up the stairs into the courtroom, you can see the tie rods.
A view from the judge's seat in the courtroom. The walls of the building are 22 inches thick at the first story level and 18 inches thick on the second level. One foot square heavy oak timbers support the floors. The interior is furnished in walnut and other wods taken form trees hewn near the building site, which is amazing because the wood in Nauvoo was found to rot too quickly so they had to import the wood from Wisconsin. The second story courtroom held hte distinction for many years of being the largest auditorium in Iowas wich was unborken by columns or pillars

This is the judge's desk. The lady who was giving the tour said, "We just need a gavel so people can take pictures." I decided that's the closest I will ever be to being a judge, so I took advantage of getting my picture taken. One of the first legal death penalty cases in Iowa and hte only one in Van Buren County was handed down in this courtroom in 1845. The other interesting fact is that you can see the hallow where the gallows were as the man was hanged for the death of a man and his child in a "lover's triangle". Our guide told us the actual gallows are in the attic of the building.

They have names and pictures of prominent people all around the courtroom. It's intriguing to me to walk about and read the stories that were included.


AE Hinckley's Boy said...

Hey Sister G:

I had a pleasant moment today when I Met with Sister Cordoba of the Nauvoo mission spending a 6 month stint in the Las Vegas Mission. I thought she looked familiar. She is headed back in 6 weeks. Things will be ramping up in Nauvoo soon.

-Ron Welch

Mr C said...

You look good there. You might want to think about continuing your education!