Marshall County Courthouse — A recovery timeline

T-R PHOTO. BY ADAM SODDERS - A giant crane hoists the old courthouse dome high in the air Monday afternoon. The dome, estimated at around 28,000 pounds, will be deconstructed and a temporary roof has been put in its place

The Marshall County Courthouse has been through a lot of changes since it was first built in the 1880s and it got arguably its biggest challenge yet in the July 19 tornado. In the minutes after the storm tore through, it was evident the courthouse had been damaged. Not long after, a video surfaced of the tornado tearing off the buildings cupola on top of the dome.

Here’s a timeline of the courthouse recovery process thus far:

• 4:30 p.m. July 19, 2018: A tornado with a peak wind speed of 144 mph rips a path through downtown Marshalltown, damaging the courthouse, businesses, homes and other structures along the way. The courthouse takes wind damage to its spire and clocktower area.

• Late afternoon and evening, July 19, 2018: Local, county and state officials descend on Marshalltown and begin damage assessments. The courthouse suffers from severe water damage because the sprinkler system could not be immediately shut off.

• July 20, 2018: Officials announce the courthouse is closed due to storm damage.

• Week of July 23, 2018: Various county and state offices previously housed in the courthouse begin to come back online in new locations. Civil courts move to Story County and criminal court functions go to the Marshall County Courthouse. The county supervisors hold their regular meeting at the Marshall County Engineer’s office.

• Aug. 13, 2018: Bruce Christensen of Iowa City comes to Marshalltown in search of a plank of wood he inscribed upon working as an electrician atop the courthouse in the 1970s. The plank’s inscription read “Electrician, Bruce Christensen, 7/19/77,” written exactly 41 years before the storm.

• Aug. 25, 2018: County officials announce tornado-related damage to the courthouse in excess of $15.5 million.

• Sept. 18, 2018: The county supervisors announce plans to make improvements to the courthouse beyond the insurance-funded fixes due to tornado damage.

• Oct. 2, 2018: The Marshalltown High School Class of 1969 announces plans to donate up to 30 trees to the courthouse property to replace trees damaged by the tornado.

• Dec. 15, 2018: County officials predict a July 19, 2019 completion of the courthouse repairs, but increase the cost estimate from $15.5 million to about $20.5 million.

• Jan. 8, 2019: Official planning for the new courthouse layout led by OPN Architects Inc. is approved by the supervisors.

• Jan. 27, 2019: Officials share a rough draft of the new layout on the courthouse’s five floors.

• Feb. 1, 2019: In a statement, county officials announce the original target of a July 19, 2019 courthouse repair completion has been pushed back to the fall of 2019.’

• March 20, 2019: County and state judicial officials disagree on courthouse layout plans, with court officials saying the layout at that time didn’t provide adequate space for court proceedings and personnel. No final decision is made on the layout at the meeting.

• May 1, 2019: The county courthouse dome is schedule for removal later in May.

• May 13, 2019: The dome of the Marshall County Courthouse, one of the most iconic parts of the historic building, is removed by a giant crane. A watertight replacement roof is installed and set to stay in place until a new dome is constructed and put atop the building.

• June 26, 2019: County officials again meet to discuss the new layout of the courthouse. A secure single entryway, space for state judicial proceedings and a new-look supervisors board room are among the items discussed.

Most recent estimates from county officials have the tornado-related courthouse repairs totaling about $30 million. The estimated date of completion is currently sometime in the spring of 2020.


Contact Adam Sodders at 641-753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com


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