Marshall County Courthouse restoration a symbol of resiliency

A symbol of resiliency for a community devastated by a EF-3 tornado in 2018 and again by an inland hurricane in 2020, the Marshall County Courthouse was re-dedicated on Nov. 19, 2022, exactly 136 years after the building was originally dedicated in 1886.

Scott Allen, OPN historic specialist and the project manager for the courthouse restoration and preservation, spoke at the re-dedication ceremony.

Marshall County Courthouse ReDedication Ceremony 4

My grandparents and mother were from Marshalltown.  Every day I worked on this building I was honored to have a personal connection with this courthouse and Marshalltown.  I’m sure this work makes my grandparents and mother proud.  I hope it makes you proud as well. This is not just a story of resiliency for one building. It is a story of a community’s commitment to each other, your past, as well as your future. On behalf of OPN Architects, we thank you for allowing us to be part of your story.

OPN Architects was on site a few days after the tornado to document the damage and start the process to stabilize the building.  Surveying the courthouse after both weather events, we saw firsthand the loss of the lantern of the dome, roof damage, destroyed chimneys, structural damage areas and water damage throughout the interior.

It trembled but was not broken.

Over the course of four years, our team worked to rehabilitate and rebuild the courthouse. In many ways the original architect John C. Cochrane, who also designed the Iowa State Capitol, guided our design team as we followed clues in drawings, finding parallels between the courthouse and the Capitol.  We were challenged to find new ways to merge new construction technologies with century old architecture and building practice to stabilize and rebuild the courthouse.

Work on the courthouse continues. It is scheduled to reopen to the public this month (February 2023).