Update: The courthouse has been renovated, with a new paint scheme on the dome.
Over the holiday weekend I made it up to Iowa to see my cousin’s graduation. Near where they live is the town of Winterset, where the “Bridges of Madison County was filmed. Winterset is actually the county seat, so it has a remarkable century old courthouse in the middle of the town square. The interior features a beautiful staircase the winds around the walls without a center support.
The buildings around the courthouse square are all intact, if bearing later facing on their fronts.
This is the way towns should still be built; the surrounding buildings create a civic space, a center of town anchored by the courthouse and framed by businesses.
The parking is kept to the back of buildings. thus maintaining the integrity of the four walls of the courthouse square’s “room.” Not all of the buildings are in perfect shape, but they’re all occupied, which can’t be said about most city’s downtowns–or suburbs increasingly to be honest.
More importantly, this a space where people actually want to visit; luckily the downtown actually has real businesses that locals frequent and not just touristy junk shops catering to out of town visitors.