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First Courthouse Building


10th and Water Street

Black Hawk County was part of Buchanan County until 1852. In the following year, the county commissioners met in Cedar Falls and declared it to be the first county seat.

The original "courthouse" was the loft of Andrew Mullarky's Black Hawk Store, located at the corner of First and Main. It was here that the county's papers and records were kept until 1855, when the county seat was moved to the more centrally located Waterloo by a vote of 388 to 260. The records were then transferred to a temporary courthouse (a brick store) in Waterloo, West.

Cedar Falls got even with Waterloo, West for this defeat the following year, however, by siding with Waterloo, East in the election to decide the site of the permanent courthouse.

It was assumed that the new courthouse would be located in Waterloo, East at what is now Lincoln Park. The courthouse was actually built on Block 20, at 10th and Water Street, by Giles Tinker at a cost of $27,000, well over the $12,746.61 specified in the contract. That overrun, plus the unusual location far from the business district, fed rumors of bribes and kickbacks in site selection and construction.

Nonetheless, the courthouse at this site served Black Hawk County until 1902, when a new courthouse was built at Park Avenue and Sycamore Street. The present courthouse, built in 1964, is located at Fifth and Lafayette Street.

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Last updated Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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