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Spencer City

Spencer City Hall is located at 8 West 4th Street, Spencer, IA 51301; phone: 712-262-6674.

Beginnings [1]

The development of Spencer started in 1865 when five pioneer families from Wisconsin chose a 50-acre grove in the center of Clay County for their new home. From this meager beginning, the city of Spencer emerged to be the center of agriculture, business, and industry in Clay County. Spencer is the county seat of Clay County. The town of Spencer as we know it today was surveyed by John Edmonds and platted in 1871 on the north side of the Little Sioux River. The county seat was moved from Peterson to Spencer in 1871. While the relocation of the Clay County seat was not the largest political battle of the area, it is widely known that Peterson was the first county seat. One of the main reasons for relocating the county seat was that Spencer had become a more developed town and was more centrally located within the county.

The original 1871 plat of Spencer was twelve square blocks. Main Street, running north and south, was platted as 100 feet wide, while others were 66 feet wide. Early residences were modest structures. This original plat was essentially the entire town until the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad arrived in 1878.

Additionally, the arrival of the railroad marked "an important epoch in the history of Clay County when slowly but gradually Spencer and the county put on a new appearance ... Houses sprang up; new arrivals came on every train; trade was given a fresh impetus; farmers were receiving better prices for their stock and produce ... The change was marked and great." The prospects for Spencer grew brighter than ever before in its history.

  1. Sheriffa M. Jones, Architectural Historian, Rural Preservation Partners, North Grand Avenue Residential Historic District, Clay County, IA, nomination document, 2014, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, DC.
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