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Palo Alto County

Palo Alto County is named for the first battlefield in the Mexican-American War.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Emmet County

E – Kossuth County

S – Pocahontas County

W – Clay County


Created:  January 18, 1851                    Map of Iowa highlighting Palo Alto County

County Seat:

Paoli              1858 – 1875

Emmetsburg  1875 – present


County Courthouse – Emmetsburg


Location:  1010 Broadway Street / 12th Street

Built:  1880 – 1881

Style:  Victorian

Architect:  B J Bartlet

Contractor:  D E Burdick


Description: The building faces west and is a two story red colored brick and concrete structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Emmetsburg. The building has a high square tower on the west front with extending roof rising three stories above the entrance on the first story. The base of the building is darker red colored brick. In the interior is an entrance lobby on the first story with stairs ascending to the second story. The County District Court courtroom is located at the center of the second story. There is a small courtroom located at the southeast corner of the second story. The building houses the County District Court of the 3A Judicial District. The building was extensively remodeled in 1960 and 1969 when the cupola was removed. An addition was constructed on the east side in 1977. On the northeast side is the ol;d Carnegie Library constructed in 1912.


See:  The 3A Judicial District includes Buena Vista CountyCherokee CountyClay CountyDickinson County, Emmet CountyKossuth County, Lyon CountyO’Brien County and Osceola County


History:  The county was created in 1851 and was attached to Boone County and Webster County. Paoli was selected as the county seat in 1858 and the first courthouse was a brick structure built in 1858 to 1859 at Paoli on the east bank of the Des Moines River. The building soon collapsed and was rebuilt but county offices continued in a building at Soda Bar. The county seat was moved to Emmetsburg in 1875. The second and present courthouse was constructed in 1880 to 1881.



County Courthouse – Emmetsburg













County District Court courtroom













County District Court small courtroom







Supervisor Minutes – courthouse building contract 



Old Carnegie Library

Photos taken 2008, 2010 and 2023