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This is Ringgold County’s first brick courthouse built in 1883-84. The east-facing tower was 102 feet high. This courthouse was condemned in 1921 and razed in 1922. Low-quality material and a settling foundation were the reasons given for the condemnation.
The bell tower in the foreground served as both a curfew bell and fire alarm. It was erected in 1897 by pioneer hardware man Z. T. Kinsell. I don’t know when it was removed but a new fire whistle arrived in 1916, so I’m sure the tower did not survive beyond that year.
In the upper right-hand corner of this week’s photo can be seen an early street lamp. Mount Ayr got electricity in January 1909 and this lamp is indeed electric. When the square was paved with bricks in 1915 is when lamp posts arrived and these hanging lights went away.
In 1904, Messers Ross and Gilliland laid a concrete sidewalk around the courthouse. Before concrete, sidewalks were made from wood planks.
This is interesting. In September 1913, Dr. Samuel Bailey ordered all cuspidors to be removed from the courthouse. I guess this was done since cuspidors, also known as spittoons, were full of germs. But, it probably cut down on spitting, as well.
The Soldiers and Sailors monument was dedicated July 4, 1918.
There does seem to be a hitching rail around the courtyard but I can’t quite make out whether it is wood or metal. In September 1915, The Mount Ayr Record-News reports a new pipe and chain hitching post would be installed. It stayed in place for many years.
A bandstand was built on the north side of the courthouse with construction beginning the first week of April 1916. It was dedicated June 6, 1916. The bandstand was torn down in February 1951 by the Ringgold County road gang.
Fourteen elm trees were planted in the court yard in 1939. Beginning in 1970, those trees were removed due to Dutch Elm Disease.
The shelter house on the southeast corner of the court yard was built in 1972 (I remember that). The Scottish phone booth was installed in 1986 and the exterior fire escape on the courthouse was constructed in 1996. Lots of changes over the decades and, no doubt, more to come.