In December, though, the man who built it, Dudley Gray, died. His obituary in both the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Breeze outline how, in 1977, Gray--who was both a lawyer and a real estate developer--whimsically decided to plant an Iowa Courthouse in the South Bay.
He ran an ad in an Iowa newspaper, offering to buy a courthouse.
The Pottawattamie County Courthouse in Council Bluffs happened to be available. According the Pottawattamie County Historical Society website, the white limestone building was begun in 1885, finished three years later, and cost a whopping $180,000 to finish.
"Designed by architects Eckel and Mann. . . in the Second Empire style with steep mansard roofs, projecting pavilions, a central tower, and above the entrance a statue of Justinia bearing a sword and not wearing a blind-fold. "
A shaft for an elevator was included in the design, but no elevator was installed until 1947. The unstable clocktower was removed in 1950, and by the 1970s the building was sinking measurably on its foundations. Justinia's statue toppled in 1974 and fell onto the sidewalk. The citizens of Pottawattamie County had enough, and began constructing a new County Courthouse in 1975.
"My colleagues thought I was a ding-a-ling," Gray said in 1980. Umm. . . really?>