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Harmony Church turned County Courthouse,
then Columbia Hall and the first Armory


Harmony Church (at left) and County Courthouse (on the corner). Originally stood on Lot 7, Block 14,
in the Old Plat of Fairfield, at 57 and 59 South 2nd Street respectively. Photo taken about 1908.

57 S. Second St. (Period 1893 - 1916)
Old Harmony Church, built 1869 on NW corner of present courthouse grounds. Sold to Jefferson County Jan. 4, 1878 for $1,250 (together with the lot on which it stood), and was used as a courtroom. It soon came to be called "the Court House." Sold Feb. 4, 1893 to Frank W. Junkin who moved the building to the lot west of the square. It was then re-named "Columbia Hall." On or about Jan. 1, 1897 it was rented to Co. M, 2nd Regiment, Iowa National Guard, and was called "The Armory." After the "new Armory" at the corner of Broadway and B was dedicated in 1911, the old Harmony Church-Courthouse-Dance Hall-Armory became a Billiard Hall. Burned March 15, 1916.

59 S. Second St. (Period, ante 1870 - 1916)
First Jefferson County Courthouse, built in 1839; served as such until 1851. Sold by the County 9 Apr. 1850 to Joseph A. McKemey. On 28 Aug. 1851 McKemey agreed to sell the building to C. C. Showers who then occupied it as a cabinet shop. In 1870-1871 J. J. Gibson purchased the Door, Sash and Blind Factory and Undertaking Business of C. E. Noble.... One Block West of SW Corner of the Public Square. 15 Apr. 1893 Caroline A. Gibson (widow of J. J.) sold to F. W. Junkin and W. H. Mohr. 24 June 1898 Junkin & Mohr sold to F. J. DeMarsh. Sargent Bros. Blacksmith Shop was at east end of old courthouse building. Both burned March 15, 1916, and DeMarsh heirs sold the lot to City of Fairfield.

Source: "Jefferson County Records" by Orville & Mary Prill, Volume 8, Page 4.

~~~oooOOOooo~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
July 22, 1869
Page 3, Column 1

A NEW CHURCH.

On Tuesday morning last, timber was being hauled upon the ground for the erection of a new church building, by the Harmony Society of the M.E. church of this city. The lots selected are immediately west of the (county) jail, and are very illegible (sic) ones. The building will be 36x50 ft., fronting the west; the audience room will be 16 ft. high at the sides with gothic ceiling, and the whole cost will be from $1,500 to $2,000. The building committee informs us that the building will be pushed forward as fast as money and men can push it, and completed at the earliest possible moment. This Society now have services in the Court-House.

~~~~

"1879 History of Jefferson County", Page 483

"In 1869, a division occurred in the Church, a minority withdrawing under the leadership of Rev. W. C. SHIPPEN. This division built what was known as "Harmony Church," now occupied as the court-room of the county. In 1876, the two churches reunited, and the present beautiful and commodious church was erected...."

~~~~

"A Fair Field", by Susan Fulton Welty, Page 397

"By 1873, the second Court House was becoming dilapidated. In January, 1875, the grand jury reported it dangerous. In April Judge L. C. Blanchard refused to risk lives by holding court in it, and the Supervisors rented Wells' Hall for a courtroom." ... "A new building was officially proposed and voted down in 1875, again in 1876 and 1877. Seasons were wet, crops poor, times hard, and the courthouse question was tangled in party politics. Something had to be done, and Harmony Church was bought for a court room late in 1878. In 1879, another proposal for a new courthouse was voted down. In January, 1880, the second Court House was abandoned to owls and rodents, and the various offices moved to whatever space could be found for them."

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
December 26, 1877
Page 3, Column 4

Thursday the Board of Supervisors purchased the Harmony church property of Benj. Pierce, and the building will hereafter be used as a court room. Since the old building was condemned the county has been occupying Wells' Hall as a court room, at an annual rental of $350 -- interest on a $3,500 building. By the terms of sale Mr. Pierce receives $1,250 for his property. Taking this view of the matter the purchase is an economical one; still how much better the money would have been expended in a new building. In this matter, however, the board had no choise (sic) but to pay aheavy rent annually, or purchase a building, and they have chosen the latter alternative Some day, perhaps, the people will be able to see that Jefferson county really does need a court house.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
March 12, 1879
Page 3, Column 4

It is probable that some additions will be made to the (Harmony) court house ere another judicial body convenes. At best our "palace of justice" is a poor affair, and the present Judge thinks it should have a clerk's office and jury rooms. A conversation was hald with the chairman of the board of supervisors the other day over this matter, and in all probability these necessary improvements will be ordered.

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"The Fairfield Ledger"
October 22, 1879
Page 3, Column 6

At their meeting Monday the Board of Supervisors made an appropriation for the erection of jury rooms at the court house. They were strongly urged to do so by Judge Cook, but the building will not be ready at his next term of court.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
January 21, 1880
Page 3, Column 5

Abandoning the Ruin.

At its late session the Board of Supervisors directed its committee on public property to secure suitable rooms for county offices. The Ledger thinks 'tis well to abandon the old ruin, and leave it to the bats and the bugs. But how will our economical citizens like paying rent for their county offices. It will prove an expensive luxury, as has the new court-house, but it is their own fault.

The Board took this step only as a last resort. The building has already been condfemned as unsafe by two grand juries, and our judges have not held court in it for several years. Last week an examination was made by four of our best posted builders, and they had the same opinion.

(Paragraph on the same page, previous column:)

The County Clerk's office will soon be removed to the Harmony court-house. The whole lower floor of the addition lately erected is to be made into one room, and will give more convenient quarters than the clerk now has. But what a bother this thing will be of scattering the county offices all over town.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
January 28, 1880
Page 3, Column 7

Removal of County Offices.

The "old ruin" has been abandoned, and the county offices are scattered all around town. The Recorder still has his office in the old court house. The Clerk and Sheriff will soon remove to the room in the rear of the court room, which is being fitted up for them. Treasurer West has his office in Slagle and Acheson's block, north side square, also Auditor Williams, and Supt. Grinstead, while there is also a suitable room there for the Board of Supervisors. The new location of the county offices on the square is probably the tbest that could have been secured, and their quarters are as convenient almost as in a new building. The rooms are well lighted and ventilated, conveniently located, and easy of access, and the removal of the offices will bring a "boom" to north side business houses. The Ledger doesn't like the "scatteration" policy, neither did it approve of the purchase of the Harmony church, nor does it relish the idea of being without a court house, and paying rent for county offices. But, then, the people of Jefferson County have voted on the question of a new court house, and if they are satisfied with the present condition of affairs, we can stand it.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
December 10, 1890
Page 3, Column 6

(Paragraph in a story about the Methodist Church of Fairfield:)

The church building was commonly known as 'Old Zion," and the same appellation was given the society. It ran along with the usual history of such organizations until 1869, when a division occurred and a second society was organized, known as the "Harmony Church." Rev. W. C. Shippen was the first pastor, and the society found a home in the frame building it erected two blocks north of the square, and which was afterwards purchased by Jefferson County and now does duty as a courthouse. The two churches united in 1876, and their first work was the preparation for the erection of the handsome edifice they now occupy. The foundation of the building was put in during the summer of 1876, while the corner stone was laid on July 4th, 1877. The building was dedicated September 2d of the same year, Rev. H. E. Wing conducting the services. The structure cost about $18,000, and a debt of $10,000 hung over the church until a year later, when $11,781.05 was raised on one day with which to free the society from debt.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
January 25, 1893

THE DEDICATION of The New Jefferson County Court House

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
January 25, 1893
Page 2, Column 2

Sale of County Buildings.

The old court house, the recorder's office and brick vaults, and all stoves, safes and fixtures belonging to Jefferson County in said buildings, will be offered at public sale on Saturday, the 4th day of February, 1893, at 1 o'clock p.m., unless previously sold. Terms, cash in hand.

-R. D. DuBois
Committee on Public Buildings.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
February 8, 1893
Page 3, Column 2

F. W. Junkin has purchased the old courthouse building and will remove it to the Gibson & Beck lot west of the square, of which he is also the owner. The building will be repaired and re-fitted and used as a public hall.

~ same edition of the paper, also Page 3, Column 2 ~

At the sale of the old building on the courthouse square Saturday the crowd was not large nor the bidding spirited. F. W. Junkin purchased the old (Harmony) courthouse at $75; the recorder's office went to H. C. Raney at $40; R. W. Lamson bought the recorder's safe for $30.

~~~~

[Source publication unknown]
CITY COUNCIL
February 23, 1893

Messrs. Junkin and Mohr filed a petition asking privilege of placing the Old Court House on lot adjoining the City Hall and making of it a public Hall....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Tribune"
March 22, 1893
Page 3, Column 7

(Paragraph in an article titled "Local Miscellany".)

The Old and New Councils.

The old city council held its last meeting at the city hall Monday evening, and closed up its year's business. A petition of A.C.D. (Augustus Caesar Dodge) Bradshaw and others was presented, asking that the Junkin & Mohr hall (the old Harmony church/court house) be covered with iron or removed from its present location, and was laid on the table.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Tribune"
March 29, 1893
Page 7, Column 2

A new sidewalk has been put down in front of the "Columbia," which is the name that the old courthouse will bear in its new location. The new walk also extends past the city hall....

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"The Fairfield Tribune"
April 12, 1893
Page 7, Column 3

CITY COUNCIL ....Junkin & Mohr ordered to put a fireproof roof on Columbia Hall.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
April 12, 1893
Page 3, Column 6

Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Junkin gave one of the largest parties of the season at the Columbian hall Friday evening.... It was a very auspicious opening of the new hall for social purposes.

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"The Fairfield Tribune"
May 17, 1893
Page 7, Column 2

Musical entertainment was given at Columbia hall Tuesday evening....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Tribune"
October 11, 1893
Page 2, Column 2

The Interstate Milk Maids Convention will be held in Columbian Hall Friday evening Oct. 13....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Tribune"
November 1, 1893

Catholic Fair Ended. It opened Mon. Oct. 23 at Columbian Hall.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Tribune"
December 20, 1893
Page 1

OVER $100,000 WORTH -- The value of Fairfield Building Improvements for 1893.... Greatest amount of Building in the History of the City.... A new hall, the "Columbia," has been fitted up since the beginning of last year. The old courthouse was purchased by Messrs. Frank Junkin and W. H. Mohr, and moved on Second West Street, adjoining the city building. It has been plastered, painted and fitted up, and a stage put in the rear. A new roof was also put on, all of the repairing amounting to about $1,500.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Tribune"
January 3, 1894
Page 7, Column 2

NEW YEAR'S BALL AT COLUMBIA HALL GREAT SUCCESS.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Tribune"
April 25, 1894
Page 2, Column 3

Hose Company will celebrate May Day -- supper and dance at Columbia Hall.

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"The Fairfield Tribune"
May 9, 1894
Page 2, Column 3

ANOTHER VICTORY FOR FAIRFIELD.

Last evening a jollification was held in Columbia Hall in honor of Neal D. Tomy.... The room was crowded until even standing room was unavailable....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Tribune"
Janaury 2, 1895
Page 2, Column 1

Grand ball at Columbia Hall New Year's night.... Fritz Orchestra of Oskaloosa furnished the music.

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"The Fairfield Ledger"
February 27, 1895
Page 3, Column 5

A partner dance will be held at Columbia Hall Wed. evening March 6.... Good music, good order, and a good time guaranteed. Admission, 50.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
July 22, 1896
Page 3, Column 3

A WATER MEETING.

The citizens of Fairfield are requested to attend an informal meeting of the City Council at Columbian Hall Thurs. evening July 23d, 7:30 p.m., to discuss the water question and the necessity of a new dam.

A. W. Jaques, Mayor.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
August 5, 1896
Page 3, Column 3

ATTENTION, COMPANY.

Wilson G. Heaton of this city is circulating a paper among young men of Jefferson County who desire to enlist in the Iowa National guard, with the purpose of organizing a military company in Fairfield.... The Ledger doubts not that the young men who are pushing this matter will receive the assistance of the public spirited people of Fairfield.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
October 21, 1896
Page 3, Column 6

REPUBLICAN RALLY.

Lunch, sandwiches and coffee, at Columbian hall beginning about 5:30 p.m. Preparations will be made to feed 1000 people.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
December 23, 1896
Page 3, Column 7

OUR HOME SOLDIERS.

(Mustered in.... long article, roster, etc.) The state allows each company $200 per year for armory rent....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
January 6, 1897
Page 3, Column 1

Co. M, 2nd Reg., I.N.G., the new military organization of this city, has leased Columbian Hall, and will use it for Armory purposes. It is large and commodious and admirably adapted for such uses.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
March 17, 1897
Page 3, Column 2

THE FIRST INSPECTION

.... Work has been commenced on the refitting of the armory.... A balcony placed to the right of the stage....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
February 23, 1898
Page 5, Column 5

Washington's birthday was observed as a public holiday in this city yesterday for the first time.... In the evening a celebration in Armory hall and the building was crowded to overflowing....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
April 27, 1898
Page 3, Column 3

FAIRFIELD'S FAREWELL TO HER SOLDIER BOYS.

Company M, Second Regiment, Iowa National Guard, has responded to President McKinley's call for troops, and is moving to the front.... Company M marched from its armory to the park, where a brief farewell address was made by Mayor Jaques, and was soon enroute to the railway station, with a drum corps at its head and an escort of more than 100 old soldiers. At the station a crowd of 4,000 to 5,000 people had assembled to say goodbye, and the scene reminded many an old-timer of that bright day in May, 1861, when Fairfield's first company of soldiers -- Company E, Second Iowa -- marched away to the wars....

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"The Fairfield Ledger"
September 21, 1898
Page 3, Column 1

At a meeting of the citizens held in Columbia hall Friday night a committee of ten was appointed to make arrangements for a public reception to the members of Company M on their return home....

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"The Fairfield Ledger"
September 28, 1898
Page 3, Column 3

Welcome to Company M.... The dinner was served at noon in Columbia hall....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
May 8, 1901
Page 3, Column 5

A SWORD FOR CAPTAIN HEATON

....Friends presented him with a handsome sword at Armory hall Thursday evening.... The affair was a very pleasing one in every particular and is an incident which will live in the local history of the war with Spain.

~~~~

[Note from 'Jefferson County Records' by Orville & Mary Prill, Volume 8, Page 20 ~ The "armory" became the "home of basketball" in Fairfield. Harry Fulton called it the "birthplace of basketball in Fairfield," and Mr. R. Bruce Gobble recalls having played there.]

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
January 15, 1902
Page 3, Column 4

SOME BASKETBALL GAME.

At Armory Hall Saturday night the team of Central Callege, Pella, defeated the Parsons boys 27 to 8.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
February 3, 1904
Page 6, Column 3

In a game of basket ball at the Armory Thursday, Co. M defeated Co. C. of Muscatine 22-20.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
January 2, 1907
Page 6, Column 3

Tomorrow night in the Armory, the Crescent Five basket ball team of Evanston, Ill., champions of last year, will play the Company K team.

~ same edition of the paper, also Page 6, Column 3 ~

In a game of basket ball at the Armory Friday evening Company M defeated the Oskaloosa YMCA team 64-17.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
January 9, 1907

Co. M defeated the YMCA team of Evanston, Ill., 41-32. The visitors are ranked with the best teams in the U.S. and are now playing a series of games which will give them 10,000 miles travel.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
January 30, 1907

FIRST STEP TOWARD ARMORY

Fifty members of Company M, Fifty-fourth Reg., I.N.G., of this city have signed a contract by which they pledge all money due them from the state from camp and drill funds for three years for an Armory fund. They will raise about $1,800 annually from these pledges and those having the matter in charge think the armory, which the company so much needs and so highly deserves, is in sight. A stock company will be organized, and it is probable that the citizens of Fairfield may be asked to aid in securing a suitable site for the building. Company M ranks among the best military companies of Iowa, but has never occupied a suitable armory.

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"The Fairfield Ledger"
March 13, 1907

BEST COMPANY -- POOREST ARMORY

.... Maj. Olmstead especially congratulated the members of Co. M upon the work that they had performed under such difficulties as confronted them in an armory which does not give them sufficient room to execute the movements.... It is a shame that you haven't a decent armory.... He declared that he began inspecting Co. M in 1897 and for ten years had been in hope that on his annual visit he would see Company M have a new home.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
September 21, 1910
Page 6, Column 4

Mrs. Katherine A. Barndollar died at Everett, Penn., the 14th inst. Buried there. She had been a resident of Fairfield for 20 years. In April she sold her home as a site for the new Co. M Armory and returned to Penn. Member Presbyterian Church.

~~~~

Lockridge "Herald"
June 15, 1911

New Armory at Broadway & B Sts.

"Dinner at the Leggett House" for the notables, and a "Grand Military Ball" in the evening....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Weekly Journal"
January 1, 1913
Page 3

NEW YEAR'S DANCE AT OLD ARMORY TONIGHT.

Full Orchestra.

~~~~

"The Fairfield Journal"
March 15, 1916
Page 2, Column 2

FIRE REMOVED HISTORIC LANDMARKS

.... The old armory building and the Sargent Blacksmith Shop. The building occupied by the Sargent blacksmith shop was the first Courthouse owned by Jefferson County....

~~~~

"The Fairfield Ledger"
March 15, 1916
Page 1, Column 4

OLD LANDMARKS DESTROYED.

Fire which broke out shortly before 2 o'clock this morning destroyed the Mission billiard hall and the Sargent Blacksmith shop, west of the southwest corner of the square. The flames were first discovered in the back end of the billiard room and had gained such headway that nothing could be saved from that building and a probable loss of several thousand dollars was incurred by the proprietors, H. G. Wisecarver and Clifford Israel. Spectators and firemen succeeded in moving the greater part of the stock in the blacksmith shop owned by Mr. Sargent and his loss was small. Some insurance was carried on the billiard room stock and the owner of the buildings, C. C. Demarsh, had insurance which will probably cover his losses.

Both buildings were old landmarks of this city. The frame building on the corner occupied by the blacksmith shop was Jefferson County's first court house. It was erected in the early '40's on the site now occupied by the Fairfield National Bank, and was moved to its present location about ten years later. A sash and door factory, an undertaking establishment and various other business enterprises had been housed there during the past sixty years or more.

The billiard hall room, better known as the old armory, was erected as the Harmony M.E. Church in 1869. It was located on the northwest corner of the present courthouse grounds and was sold to the county for a courthouse upon the erection of the present M.E. church in 1876. It was used for courthouse purposes till (sic) 1893, when the present courthouse building was finished. At that time it was sold, along with other county buildings, at auction. R. D. DuBois, a member of the Board of Supervisors at that time, was the auctioneer and the building was sold to Frank Junkin, who moved it to its present location. It was used as an armory building by Company M of this city for many years. Since the building of the new Armory and the removal of the militia company it has been occupied by the Mission billiard hall.

The Fairfield fire department had a busy time of it throughout the night. Sparks from the burning buildings threatened numerous houses in the vicinity and it is very likely that a larger fire would have resulted but for the good work of the fire company. The city buildings next door were slightly damaged, as was the house east of the blacksmith shop. The home of J. E. Cummings on West Washington was set afire by a spark and a small hole was burned in the roof before the fire company could extinguish the flames....

[Note from Mary Prill: Copied in State Historical Building, Des Moines, Apr. 7, 1970. Fairfield Library does not have 'Ledgers' for this period.]


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