Buena Vista County Courthouse
The court proceedings of Buena
Vista County lacked the formality of the present day courtrooms. In fact, court
was held in houses and storerooms through 1869 and after trial, the judge,
attorneys, jurors, and witnesses gathered around the big table at which the
court was held and played poker.
In 1870, the first
courthouse was erected in Sioux Rapids. This building was two stories high and
cost the county $4,945. Just as the courthouse was finished, a series of
battles began for the location of the county seat. Cities like Newell, Storm
Lake, and Alta were growing rapidly, but their efforts to relocate the county
seat were futile. In 1877, the Sioux Rapids courthouse burned down which gave
the other cities an opportunity to take over. Storm Lake offered to lease their
two-story city hall as the courthouse, provided that Storm Lake would be named
as the county seat. The offer was accepted in 1878 and the county records were
peacefully transferred to the new courthouse.
Another courthouse was
constructed in 1888 for $25,000.
The present courthouse
was completed in 1972 and was designed in the shape of an "L". The most
significant feature of the building is the courtroom in the round, which
measures 30 feet in diameter. The total cost is estimated at $1,200,000.