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Lyon County


Lyon County is named for Nathaniel Lyon, a soldier from Iowa, who was the first United States general killed in the American Civil War.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Minnehaha County, South Dakota, Rock County, Minnesota and Nobles County, Minnesota

E – Osceola County

S – Sioux County

W – Lincoln County, South Dakota


Created:  January 15, 1851                    Map of Iowa highlighting Lyon County

County Seat:

Rock Rapids 1851 – present


County Courthouse – Rock Rapids


Location:  206 South 2nd Avenue / Marshall Street

Built:  1915 – 1916

Style:  Classical Revival

Architect:  Joseph Schwartz

Contractor:  Amwold Construction


Description: The building faces north and is a three story gray colored stone and concrete structure. The rectangular shaped building is located on spacious landscaped grounds in the center of Rock Rapids. The north front has a projecting entrance section in the center. There are eight columns rising from the second story to the top of the third story with recessed windows. A cornice runs below the wide band along the roof line. The roof line is flat. In the interior, the main staircases and corridor wainscoting are of Italian marble, while the floor of the rotunda on the second story displays the county seal in a mosaic of ceramic tile. The third story, which houses the legal and judicial functions displays in the rotunda area four semicircular murals, set within the tympana of the arches which open off the rotunda to the corridors. These murals, Entitled “Pioneer”, “Immigrant”, “Rock Rapids 1873”, and “Modern Farm 1917” were possibly the work of artist William Peaco (Peace’s “Pioneer” and “Immigrant” murals in the Greene County Courthouse in Jefferson, are remarkably like those at Rock Rapids). The County District courtroom is located on the west side of the third story and is also of note, featuring an early jury box (with swivel chairs bolted to the floor), judge’s bench and chair, and fine aedicular doorframes. With the exception of new lighting in some areas and the partitioning of one ground-floor room, the interior spaces of the courthouse are essentially untouched. The building houses the County District Court of the 3A Judicial District. 


See:  National Register of Historic Places – Lyon County Courthouse


See:  The 3A Judicial District includes Buena Vista CountyCherokee CountyClay CountyDickinson County, Emmet CountyKossuth County, O’Brien CountyOsceola County and Palo Alto County.


History:  The county was created in 1851 and Rock Rapids was designated as the county seat. The county was attached to Wodbury County ( Wahkaw County ) for administration until 1872. The first courthouse was three story frame structure designed by O H Cheney and built by S C Hyde in Rock Rapids in 1874 to 1875 at a cost of $15,000. The building was moved a few blocks and was used as an apartment house. The second and present courthouse was constructed in 1916 to 1917 at a cost of $109,695.



County Courthouse – Rock Rapids








































Mural – Modern Farm 1917



Mural – Rock Rapids 1873



Mural – Immigrant



Mural – Pioneer



County District Court courtroom



















Old Judge’s chair



Photos taken 2007, 2023 and 2024