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Courthouse dome nears completion

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO – The steel skeleton of the new Marshall County Courthouse dome, along with other pieces, is set to be delivered to the courthouse grounds later this month. The dome construction is to be completed on-site and set atop the courthouse in late September.

TIMES-REPUBLICAN

The massive old Marshall County Courthouse dome was plucked from the top of the historic building in May and the new dome is set to replace it in several weeks’ time.

The dome was famously damaged in the 2018 tornado, which toppled the spire at the top of the courthouse. County officials and contractors got a look at the new dome early last week in Chariton, courtesy of the dome’s builders, Johnson Machine Works Inc.

“It was really cool,” said Marshall County Auditor and Recorder Nan Benson. “This place normally does (river) locks and dams and bridges. Our project is small compared to most of their work.”

Benson said leaders at Johnson Machine Works were intrigued by the idea of building a replacement dome for the late 19th century-era building.

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS – A temporary, watertight roof sits in place of the old dome as the new dome is constructed.

The new dome’s skeleton is made of steel, which Benson said should be far more durable than the previous dome’s wooden structure. She said there are several smaller parts that will go into the dome’s construction.

Major parts of the new dome are expected to be delivered to the courthouse grounds by late August. Those parts will be put together on-site.

Once the new dome is completed, crews will use a crane to hoist it over downtown Marshalltown and place it atop the courthouse. That is expected in late September, Benson said.

The courthouse previously housed not only the county offices of auditor and recorder, board of supervisors, treasurer and attorney, but also parts of the state district court system.

Local citizens voted for the courthouse to be built in 1881 and architect John C. Cochrane of Chicago was brought in to design the building. He also designed the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines.

The courthouse was completed in 1886 for $150,000. It was renovated in the 1970s for more than $3 million.

The latest estimate from county officials for the post-tornado work being done on the courthouse is more than $27 million.

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