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O’Brien County


O’Brien County is named for William Smith O’Brien, who was an Irish patriot.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Osceola County

E – Clay County

S – Cherokee County

W – Sioux County 


Created:  January 15, 1851                    Map of Iowa highlighting O'Brien County

County Seat:

Old O’Brien  1851 – 1873

Primghar      1873 – present


County Courthouse – Primghar


Location:  155 South Hayes Avenue / 2nd Street

Built:  1915 – 1916

Style:  Neo-Classical / Beaux Arts

Architect:  Smith and Keffer

Contractor:  J E Lovejoy


Description: The building faces east and is a three story cream colored stone and concrete structure. The rectangular shaped building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Primghar. The building is faced with buff Bedford limestone. The east front has six large Doric columns rising from the second story to the top of the third story. A projecting cornice runs below the roof line. The roof line is flat. In the interior there is an entrance hall. The hallways are made of Italian marble and the handrails are finished in bronze. A ceramic tile floor has the county seal in tile irosaic. A central marble staircase with wood handrails and brass balustrade ascends to the third story. In the center of the building is a large rotunda rising to a wide skylight with white glass panels. Ornate railing is around the rotunda on the upper story, On the second story is the Supervisors Room. The County District Court is located at the northwest side of the third story. The building houses the County District Court of the 3A Judicial District.


See:  National Register of Historic Places – O’Brien County Courthouse


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


History:  The county was created in 1851 and Old O’Brien was selected as the county seat. The first courthouse was built at Waterman in 1860 at a cost of $2,000. The county seat was moved to Primghar in 1873 and the second courthouse was built in 1874. At a cost of $2,000. The third courthouse was built by Green Brothers in 1887 at a cost of $6,000. An addition was constructed in 1902 by English & Metcalf. The cost of construction of the present courthouse was $159,000.



County Courthouse – Primghar 



















Board of Supervisors Meeting Room













County District Court courtroom













Photos taken 2007 and 2024