Please note that this text-only version, provided
for ease of printing and reading, includes approximately 50 pages
and may take up to 15 minutes to print. By clicking on one of these
links, you may go directly to a particular text-only section:
Essay on Settlement
Essay on Transportation
Essay on Agriculture
Essay on Preservation
List of Sites
Begin the Tour
The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places,
Hardin County Community Development Council, Hardin County Historic
Preservation Commission, Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission,
Ackley Historic Preservation Commission, Silos & Smokestacks
National Heritage Area, Iowa State Historical Society, and the National
Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) invite
you to explore the proud agricultural history of Hardin County,
Iowa. Located in the center of the state, the county was settled
in the 1850s shortly after Iowa acquired statehood. The rural landscape
is characterized by fertile farmland fed by the Iowa River, clusters
of agricultural building, and small towns and communities rich with
history. This latest National Register of Historic Places travel
itinerary highlights 27 historic places--barns, civic buildings,
churches, railroad depots, schools and libraries--that depict the
history of the county, the "Heart of the Heartland."
In 1853, Eldora was the first town platted in Hardin County and
today it is the county seat and location of the impressive Hardin
County Courthouse. The county grew with the coming of the railroad,
when national and international markets became easily accessible.
The county's farms prospered, and many agricultural buildings were
constructed such as the innovative Slayton Farms--Round
Barn. Agricultural products got to market from many depots throughout
the county, including the 1902 Iowa Falls Union Depot
and the 1926 Illinois Central Combination Depot
in Ackley. Entertainment played a part in the development of the
county at places such as the Estes Park Band Shell,
Princess--Sweet Shop, and the stunning 1899 Metropolitan
Opera House. The importance of education to Hardin County residents
is reflected in the stately Edgewood School of Domestic
Arts, the 1936 New Providence School Gymnasium
built by the Public Works Administration, and several Carnegie libraries
such as those found in Alden,
Iowa Falls, and Eldora. The entrepreneurial
spirit of the mid-west is represented by successful commercial buildings
such as the Ellsworth-Jones Building and Sentinel
Block. Historic St. Matthew's by the Bridge Episcopal
Church and Honey Creek Friends' Meetinghouse
are testament to the important role played by religion throughout
Hardin County, Iowa, offers several ways to discover the
historic places that played important roles in the county's past.
Each highlighted property features a brief description of the place's
significance, color and, where available, historic photographs,
and public accessibility information. At the bottom of each page
the visitor will find a navigation bar containing links to four
essays that explain more about Hardin County Settlement,
and Preservation and Conservation. These
essays provide historic background, or "contexts," for many places
included in the itinerary. The itinerary can be viewed online, or
printed out if you plan to visit Hardin County, Iowa, in person.
Created through a partnership between the National Park Service's
National Register of Historic Places, Hardin County Community Development
Council, Hardin County Historic Preservation Commission, Iowa Falls
Historic Preservation Commission, Ackley Historic Preservation Commission,
Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area, Iowa State Historical
Society, and NCSHPO, Hardin County, Iowa, is an example of
a new and exciting cooperative project. As part of the Department
of the Interior's strategy to revitalize communities by promoting
public awareness of history and encouraging tourists to visit historic
places throughout the nation, the National Register of Historic
Places is cooperating with communities, regions and Heritage Areas
throughout the United States to create online travel itineraries.
Using places listed in the National Register of Historic Places,
the itineraries help potential visitors plan their next trip by
highlighting the amazing diversity of the country's historic places
and supplying accessibility information for each featured site.
In the Learn More section, the itineraries
link to regional and local web sites that provide visitors with
further information regarding cultural events, special activities,
lodging and dining possibilities as well as histories of the region,
should they want to explore further.
Hardin County, Iowa is the 12th of more than 30 organizations
working directly with the National Register of Historic Places to
create travel itineraries. Additional itineraries will debut online
in the future. The National Register of Historic Places, Hardin
County Community Development Council, Hardin County Historic Preservation
Commission, Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission, Ackley
Historic Preservation Commission, and the Silos & Smokestacks
National Heritage Area hope you enjoy this virtual travel itinerary
of Hardin County's historic places. If you have comments or questions
please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments or questions"
located at the bottom of each page.
Welcome to Hardin County, Iowa. You have discovered a place of
history, where people are in touch with their cultural and the natural
When you come to Hardin County, you will be coming to the western
entrance to the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area,
a living landscape of communities, people and resources.
Here you will find some of the richest soils in the world along
the pristine Iowa River. You can canoe the entire length of the
county. Or, you can enjoy a scenic drive along the river, traveling
through our unique towns, taking in the historic architecture and
ethnic heritage that have shaped our communities and our people.
As you travel through the rural agricultural landscape, you can
imagine the stories of the generations of families who have cultivated
the land and created wonderful architectural structures like barns
It is peaceful and quiet here, which allows you to appreciate the
magnificence of the land, and the beauty of the scenery.
Take your time when you visit. There are many lodging and camping
opportunities. Hardin County is easily accessed by Interstate 35
or the newly completed U.S. Highway 20.
Historic Hardin County is the Heart of the Heartland.
We are proud of our state and we'd love to share it with you.
Thomas J. Vilsack
Sally J. Pederson
With the rapid development of the American west in the 1800s, the
state of Iowa became not only a resting stop but also a stopping
place for many wagon trains carrying western settlers. Prior to
European exploration, these lands were home to numerous American
Indian tribes including the Sioux, Potawatomi, Winnebago and Iowa,
after which the state is named. The French lay claim to this area
as early as 1673, but the first European settler did not arrive
here until more than a century later. The United States obtained
the land as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Early western pioneers traveled west both by land and river. Possible
land routes included Forbe's Road, the most important link between
New England and the Ohio Valley, as well as the first national highway
later known as the National Road (now U.S. Route 40). Begun in Cumberland,
Maryland, in 1806, the planned route was intended to stretch
to St. Louis, Missouri. Due to a national financial crisis in 1837,
the terminus became Vandalia, Illinois--the state capital--but the
National Road succeeded in bringing many settlers to Indiana and
Illinois. The Ohio River was an important river route, while the
Great Lakes were advantageous for passage from the Mid-Atlantic,
New England, and Canada. These pioneers arrived in Green Bay, Wisconsin,
or Chicago, Illinois, where they could secure teams of wagons for
the overland route--a trip that took from six to eight days, with
fares ranging from six to 25 dollars.
The lands that are now Eastern Iowa, bordered by the Mississippi
River, remained under the control of the Sac and Fox tribes until
the 1830s, which prohibited European settlement. In 1832, after
years of resisting removal, these tribes engaged in Black Hawk's
War (lead by their war chief), were quickly defeated and shortly
thereafter sold their land rights to the United States. By 1833
all great avenues of immigration were open to Iowa. Two decades
later, by the time the United States negotiated with the Dakota
Sioux for the rest of Iowa in 1851, the state was predominately
home to white settlers. Population growth in Iowa was phenomenal,
and the territory was alive with people who wanted to claim land
and build homes. Statehood was granted to the territory by 1846.
Prior to 1836, wagon trains hoping to cross the Mississippi from
Illinois were only able to do so at Buffalo, Dubuque, and Burlington.
By 1860, 17 other ferry locations were established to meet the demand.
Early settlement in the upper Iowa River basin was strongly influenced
by the existing watercourses. Timber along the streams was usually
claimed in preference to the prairie land. It was easier to cut
down and clear trees than it was to break through the tough prairie
sod with primitive tools. These wooded areas were also a natural
source for fuel and building materials for cabins and fences. Many
mills were established with villages sited nearby. Mills were vital
to these mid-19th-century agricultural settlements.
The following generalization helps illustrate what an early rural
farmstead in Iowa was like:
"after the first decade or two of "pioneering," a general
type of farming may be observed. The average farm was a combination
of prairie and small patches of woodland. The farmer planted corn,
wheat, oats and a few other small grains. He raised pigs, a few
cattle of doubtful lineage, and some sheep; his work cattle consisted
of a yoke or two of slow footed oxen or several nondescript horses.
His farm buildings left much to be desired. By the 1860's he may
have planted a small orchard, and he had a number of the latest
agricultural implements - - steel plows, reapers, mowers, corn shellers,
and, in some cases, a few planting tools. In fact, his machinery
was well in advance of his methods which were usually those of his
father and grandfather. His farm, in spite of careless cultivation,
produced a large surplus which he sold at the nearest town" [Throne,
Mildred, "Book Farming" in Iowa, 1840-1870," Patterns and Perspectives
in Iowa History: Ames, Iowa; Iowa State University Press, 1974]
Shortly after Iowa acquired statehood, Hardin County was created
by an act of the General Assembly on January 15, 1851. The county
was named in honor of Colonel John J. Hardin, a prominent leader
in the Black Hawk War who was later killed in the Mexican War. The
first settler to arrive in the area is believed to have been Greenbury
Haggin. Haggin had arrived in Iowa from Kentucky in 1849 and built
a log cabin on the Iowa River in Union Township that fall. One year
later Jacob Kidwilder and his family settled in Section 2, Jackson
Township, along with friends Adam Crim and Francis Mitchell. Also
in 1850, a third settlement was established in what is now Eldora,
the county seat. In February 1851, B. I. Talbot, Nathan Townsend,
and John Caldwell settled in the vicinity of Iowa Falls. That same
year several members of the Society of Friends settled along Honey
Creek, in Providence Township, and later established the town of
New Providence and the Honey
Creek Friends' Meetinghouse. Another Quaker settlement was located
just east of Iowa Falls along the river, and Iowa Falls itself was
home to a significant Quaker population.
One challenge to early settlement of the area was the lack of
timber resources away from the river. Initially, only 10 percent
of the county was timbered, and became quickly depleted by lumbering.
When the county was established in 1851, it contained fewer than
a dozen families. However, after 1852 settlers moved in rapidly,
mostly coming up the Iowa River from Marshall County. In 1852 a
small amount of gold was discovered in the shoals of the Iowa River
a few miles north of Eldora and for a brief time there were 500
to 1000 people camped in tents and wagons between Eldora and Steamboat
Rock. Settlers were so busy panning for gold that they forgot about
their farms and little was accomplished that year.
In July of 1853, Eldora became the first town platted in the county,
and the first frame building in Hardin County was constructed there
in December of that year. The abundance of good building stone further
up the river was a factor in the development of Rocksylvania, and
later Iowa Falls. Rocksylvania was platted in November of 1854 by
Benjamin Talbot, over numerous objections to the name.
Like other areas of the state, mills were the focal point of the
small agricultural settlements, and prior to 1860 most roads in
the county lead to a mill. In 1856 a steam mill was built and that
same year Iowa Falls was platted a short way up river. The vertical
drop of the river as it passed through the county was even greater
than that of Niagara Falls, and was a natural source for water powered
Also in 1856, the government decided to establish a mail route
between Cedar Falls and Fort Dodge, necessitating a postal highway
through either Hardin City or Iowa Falls. Anxious lot holders from
Iowa Falls persuaded station agent T. L. Chesney to choose their
town by promising the use of their homes to board travelers. Iowa
Falls grew quickly after that and absorbed Rocksylvania, which is
now within the city limits.
By 1860, nearly all land in Hardin County had been purchased.
Most settlers continued to migrate from the east; census records
show that the largest number of settlers in the county had been
born in Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania. Foreign emigrants came
from Ireland, Canada and England, although Germans from East Fries
Land (northern Germany) were the predominate ethnic group migrating
to the area from the post-Civil War period until the 1940s. By 1865,
the stagecoach and regular mail routes were established in the county
and the railroad was not far behind. The growth of towns and farm
productivity were closely related, and much effort was being expended
to attract new merchants and farmers to particular localities. Many
more towns were platted than were actually settled--paper towns
such as New Berlin, Poseyville, and Georgeton existed only on paper.
The towns that ultimately prospered in Hardin County were those
connected to national and international markets via the railroad.
It was during this time that the cribbed grain elevator became a
sentinel over the Iowa landscape, drawing the local and regional
harvest of grain to be held until shuttled to a larger transshipment
Mills were vitally important to the agriculturally oriented settlements
first established in Hardin County during the mid-19th century.
Wheat was the chief agricultural product grown; flour was ground
for domestic food use and for sale to new immigrants and other markets.
Almost all roads in Hardin County before 1860 led to mill sites.
Oxen and horse drawn wagons were the primary means of reliable transportation
in the settlement era. The first stagecoach lines came to Hardin
with the development of roads, which provided a more regular transportation
and mail service.
Canoes, piroques, flatboats, keelboats, and even a few paddle
wheel steamboats in the lower Iowa River Valley provided substantial
river traffic in the 19th century. While it was recognized that
mill dams and bridges needed to be built, the major navigable rivers
were avoided for these purposes, and settlements were often sited
close to the mill locations.
During the Civil War, growth and immigration to Iowa slowed, but
the post-war period was witness to significant expansion of the
stage coach and wagon roads, railroad lines and bridges. Angling
territorial roads followed Indian trails or connected towns and
farms to mills. However, in increasing numbers, section line county
roads were laid out according to the legal township and range pattern
superimposed upon Iowa by the government land surveys. This grid
pattern on the landscape has strongly influenced farmstead location
and field placement over time. With road access, new farms could
be located well out on the prairie with square fields oriented along
quarter section lines. Likewise, churches and public schools could
also be located at convenient sites on the grid.
The towns that ultimately prospered in the county were connected
to national and international markets via the railroad. Hardin County
was not among the fortunate sections of Iowa that had a railway
line connected to its early settlements. For many years, produce
was hauled to market by wagon teams to Marshalltown or Cedar Falls,
or some even more remote point. Ackley was constructed as the terminus
of the Dubuque and Sioux City Railroad in 1865, and as such briefly
became an essential shipping and receiving center for farm commodities
and manufactured goods. Ackley was platted in 1857 in anticipation
of a rail line but remained a paper town until 1865. The line to
Iowa Falls was completed in the spring of 1866, which remained its
western terminus for two more years. Historical accounts of the
arrival of the railroad to small rail towns depict an atmosphere
that is nothing short of riotous with railroad workers, weekend
farmers, and disreputable sorts mingling in late night debauchery.
In 1868 the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad Company completed
the line to Sioux City, thus connecting all Iowa from the east to
the west. In 1870 this line was leased to the Illinois Central Railroad.
As in the Des Moines Valley, coal mining played a significant
economic role in Hardin County. Local economic growth spurts were
the result of prosperous mines in the upper Iowa Valley outside
Eldora in 1868 and near Hubbard in the 1880s. Markets for the coal
were made accessible by the construction of the Eldora Railroad
and Coal Company, which later became the Central Railroad of Iowa
(1869-1879), and finally the Central Iowa Railway Company. In addition
to coal, building stone and clay deposits provided natural local
products important to the economy. These were obtained at various
places, primarily along the Iowa River. The high-grade limestone
is still mined today in Alden.
Other rail lines were connected throughout Hardin County by the
1880s. In 1881 the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad crossed the
lower half of Hardin County, and the Burlington, Cedar Rapids &
Northern Railway (BCR&N) was brought through Iowa Falls. The BCR&N
heralded progress for Iowa Falls as the town became both a freight
and bridge division on the road, and a 10-stall round house was
built (no longer standing). E. S. Ellsworth, a prominent Hardin
County businessman, built the Short Line Railway, or the Des Moines,
Iowa Falls and Northern, which connected Iowa Falls to Des Moines
and later Mason City. There had been a dire need for a connection
to the state capital for many years, and in 1903 the Short Line
became part of the Rock Island system. This was the last railroad
constructed in Hardin County. Railroad passenger service continued
until the 1960s.
Most of Iowa's roads in the last half of the 19th century were
created by township trustees who graded ditches and did some dragging
of the roadway bed to form primitive grade. During this time period,
few roads were graded, plans were seldom prepared in advance of
work and estimates of costs were unheard of. Distances were measured
by "stepping off" or "wagon loads." By 1900 Iowa had 104,000 miles
of road open to travel--all rural mileage was dirt. Twenty miles
of travel was a long journey for a farm team and wagon. The development
of the road and highway system followed with the development of
the motor vehicle.
In 1904 the Iowa Highway Commission was established by the legislature,
which became the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) in 1975.
In 1919 the state legislature envisioned a state road system of
approximately 6,400 miles of hard-surfaced roads distributed among
the 99 counties--officially known as the "Primary Road System."
These paved roadways were especially necessary in Iowa because when
it rained Iowa's rich soil became a quagmire and the state became
an island of mud. Iowa's road conditions developed a national reputation
that caused interstate travelers to avoid the state. The 1924 edition
of the Official Road Guide to the Lincoln Highway warned
"It's a folly to drive on Iowa dirt roads, during or immediately
after a heavy rain. Time will not be saved by attempting it."
Hardin County's road development paralleled that of the rest of
the state, with the development of a Primary and Secondary system.
State Highways 65 and 20 were built in the 1930s and helped many
towns along the route to keep growing. As railroad passenger traffic
dwindled, highways became the preferred travel routes. Many automobile-oriented
businesses were established to cater to both the car and driver.
The main north/south route through Iowa, Interstate 35, is located
just to the west of the Hardin County line. The new Highway 520
(re-aligned 20) bisects the middle of the county from east to west,
and is a model for transportation projects that carefully consider
environmental impacts. Of particular interest is the unique bridge
that carries this highway over the environmentally sensitive Iowa
A scenic Hardin County drive follows the Iowa River from Alden
south to Eldora with camping, picnicking and canoe launch opportunities
along the way. This route, from the south western to the north central
part of the county, will soon be designated as Iowa's first Scenic
and Heritage By-way. It follows the old "Glacier" or "Billy
Goat Highway," which originally stretched from St. Louis to Glacier
Park in Montana. Many loop tours to the different towns in the county
can be accessed from this route.
The dictionary defines agriculture as: The science, art, and business
of cultivating soil, producing crops and raising livestock. Agriculture
has been the dominate industry in Hardin County since it was established
in the mid-19th century, although it has evolved and changed over
The earliest farms were of a subsistence nature, feeding the immediate
family. By 1860, 11 mill sites were located on the Iowa River in
Hardin County. These early mills processed wheat into flour. Wheat
was the chief agricultural product grown; flour was ground for vital
domestic food use and for sale to new immigrants and other markets.
After the 1850s, it became increasingly apparent to Iowa farmers
that more money could be made from corn and other feed grains grown
for livestock consumption than that grown for human consumption.
The cost of shipping grain to the east was prohibitive, but cheap
Iowa corn could be fed to hogs and cattle, which in turn were sold
at nearby markets. This shift in farming created a new demand for
storing large amounts of grain at the farm site, which resulted
in the development of the corn crib. On some farms, the corn crib
was even larger than the barn.
The Civil War created a lull in Iowa's growth and immigration,
but the period after the war saw a significant land use change in
the expansion of railroads, stagecoach and wagon roads and bridges.
Section line county roads were increasingly laid out according to
the legal township and range pattern superimposed upon Iowa by the
national government land surveys. This grid pattern on the landscape
has greatly influenced farmstead location and field placement over
By the late 19th century, the conversion from wheat to predominantly
corn and livestock production was nearly complete, and grain elevators
on county roads and rail lines rapidly replaced gristmills along
the river. These storage and shipping points have evolved into multimillion
bushel storage silo facilities. These silos are now affectionately
known as the "Prairie Sentinels."
Increased mechanization had a profound effect on farming in Hardin
County. The first machines adopted were gas and steam powered engines--used
as stationary and mobile power sources for the many chores around
the farm. Tractors and motorized harvesting equipment were introduced
next. Early tractors were steam powered goliath machines, followed
later by gasoline and then diesel propelled models. These tractors
expanded the field work capabilities of the farmer. What started
as the single blade plow pulled by oxen and horse has evolved into
12 row implements towed behind gigantic turbo-charged tractors with
hundreds of horsepower. This mechanization of agriculture was completed
Another important aspect of the agricultural industry is livestock.
This too has experienced major changes over time. In the state's
early history, every farm had at least one milk cow, a dozen hogs
and several chickens. Today most cattle, swine and poultry are concentrated
at a few large industrial operations. The operations consist of
large stand-alone buildings, in contrast to the traditional cluster
of farm buildings. In fact the size of the barn was often determined
by the livestock number, thus dictating the required hay storage
as animal shelter is necessary for the Iowa winters. That need is
Iowa's barns continue to stand as emblems of prosperity of past
eras as well as the continual changes in agriculture. The barn was
the initial center of the agricultural operation before this building
became obsolete with the adoption of machines that could perform
the same jobs previously done by farm animals. Many barns now suffer
from a lack of maintenance, demolition or loss due to wind or fire.
From 1830 to 1920, there were an estimated 100,000 barns built in
Iowa, 180 of which were round or multisided. Less than half of these
barns survive today, and more are being lost at a rate of 1,000
per year. Many concerned citizens are now striving to save and protect
those that remain, so that future generations and visitors to the
state can experience this era of Iowa history.
The use of hybrid seed for commercial production is recognized
to be an Iowan's invention through the Wallace family and what is
now the Pioneer Seed Company. The idea of purchasing seed rather
than using seed carefully sorted from previous year's production
changed agronomic agriculture. The earliest seed company in Hardin
County was located in Ackley, which is also the location of one
of the nation's largest canning facilities. For years this area
has been the sweet corn capital of Iowa. The technology of biogenetics
for resistance and other production and processing traits makes
the requirement of planting commercial varieties nearly mandatory.
The importance of soil fertility and its impact on farming is well
documented. Fertilization of the soils has moved from animal wastes
to commercial fertilizers and has arrived at a blend of the two.
Where large-scale livestock operations exist, huge tracts of cropland
are covered with manure to aid in the plant production. Where those
are not readily available, commercial fertilizers are the application
of choice. The basic nutrients from animals or the commercial source
are applied according to laboratory information in a closely monitored
It is often said that American agriculture is the last great family
business to vertically integrate into a corporate structure. Families
that used to operate on 160 acres now operate with employees on
5,000 to 6,000 acres and more. The future of American agriculture
is one of merging the laboratory and the farmer. Public and private
discovery of food technology involving all in the food chain from
production to the consumer and the quick acceptance of those discoveries
has become the agricultural industry standard. Increasing the efficiency,
expanding the utility, developing specific attributes and creating
new varieties with specific characteristics define our future. Value-added
agriculture, which began with the basic plan of selling grain as
meat with grain and livestock production on the single farm operation
continues to have validity. Nevertheless, vertically integrated
agriculture operations producing a single product are more common.
Chemistry, genetics, botany, zoology and their interrelationship
creates a new agricultural family that increases the difficulty
of defining where the farm gate is located. Additional concerns
of food, fiber and energy production offers new challenges for tomorrow's
farmer never imagined in history. Our ability of successfully collaborating
among all who are involved in the science, art and business of cultivating
the soil, producing crops and raising livestock will determine the
future of Iowa, this nation and our world as we struggle to feed,
clothe and house a population of more than six billion.
The peaceful and beautiful Iowa River Valley lies in the midst
of modern America's most productive farmland. Grant Wood (1892-1942),
artist and Iowa native, depicted the state's rural landscape in
many of his paintings. Wood's paintings illustrate farmland and
rolling valleys that are typical of scenes still found in Hardin
The Iowa River divides the county as it flows from northwest to
southeast. The encroachment of civilization has been restricted
by bluffs and the area still maintains a primitive sense of times
long past. This impressive landscape can be glimpsed by following
a well-marked 30-mile scenic drive through rural areas and along
the river. The towns along it's route--Alden, Iowa Falls, Steamboat
Rock, Eldora, and Union--are working together to preserve the river
valley and it's natural beauty. In the late 1980s, growing environmental
and economic concerns for the Iowa River Valley in Hardin County,
lead to a study of the area now known as the Iowa River Greenbelt.
A comprehensive Master Plan was developed which could be used by
county residents, community and county governments, civic groups
and educational institutions as an aid in making decisions regarding
use, conservation and development of Greenbelt lands and resources.
These proposals for conserving and enhancing the Iowa River Greenbelt
were guided by concerns for the future of the Greenbelt's resources,
its scenic beauty and heritage, and opportunites for both perservation
Within Hardin County's rich earth are precious 300 million-year-old
coal, shale and limestone deposits, which contain fossilized ferns,
snails and shellfish from a prehistoric era. Artifacts and bones,
horns and tusks speak of a more recent time when the state's earliest
inhabitants during the precontact period followed the retreating
glacier and hunted the herds of wooly mammoths, shaggy buffalo and
Modern Man has left his mark on the Iowa River Valley as well,
mining its coal and limestone, clearing its timber and raising families
away from the solitude of the prairie and the harsh conditions that
existed there. Today, much of the timber in Hardin County is second
or third growth and is not publicly accessible. However, the county
has been very active in acquiring timbered areas of interest to
the public and now owns or manages 3,000 acres of land in 53 public
recreation areas. Most of them are primitive, low maintenance, picnic
and hiking areas with river access. Each of the county's communities
also owns or maintains outdoor recreation areas: Alden's Riverfront
Park, Iowa Fall's Assembly Park, Steamboat Rock's Tower Rock and
riverfront campground, Eldora's Deer Park, Union's Daisy Long Park,
just to name a few.
Lake State Park lies adjacent to the city of Eldora and the
riverfront. In 1935 Pine Creek was dammed and several shelter houses
and cabins were built, as well as a stone lodge constructed by the
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). This group of Depression era
civilian workers operated under the command of two army lieutenants,
one of whom was the camp surgeon. A total of 123 men were tasked
with creating the park and putting a stop to poor land use practices.
The camp joined the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) and became known
as Camp SCS Ia-7, in July of 1935. In addition to their work on
the state park, limestone was quarried and crushed to spread on
fields, and terraces were built on 19 cooperating farms. Today their
fine work and craftsmanship is still evident. All of the park buildings
have recently been restored and a new bicycle trail is being completed
that will eventually stretch from Alden south to Union.
Conservation efforts are one of the focuses of Calkin's
Nature Area just south and west of old Highway 20 on the west
end of Iowa Falls. This nature center is also a federally licensed
raptor rehabilitation center. Raptors are birds of prey and include
hawks, eagles, falcons, condors, owls, ospreys, vultures and kites.
With a little luck there will be raptors for you and your family
to view, as they are being nursed back to health for release.
Prairie Bridges Park is located on the northern edge of Ackley,
off of S-56, amidst the agricultural lands that surround all Hardin
County towns. The park, which was created from reclaimed gravel
pits, features a well established prairie section, several bodies
of water and multiple bridges that transport visitors to each area
of the park. Some of the bridges are original to the park area,
while others have been rebuilt, or moved to the park from other
locations where they were threatened. Camping, showers and picnic
areas are available. When this park opened in 1994, it won the "Pit
to Park" award by Mid West Magazines.
One of the results of this travel itinerary project is a renewed
commitment within the communities of Hardin County to research,
document, and nominate more historic places to the National Register
of Historic Places. Many towns in the county collaborated on this
project because they are keenly aware of the benefits of historic
preservation to their quality of life in the "Heart of the Heartland."
Residents of Iowa Falls have been particularly active in local preservation
efforts during the past few decades. The Iowa Falls Historic Preservation
Commission was established in 1986. A newcomer to Iowa Falls, Don
Clark, organized the commission, and later became Mayor. The Commission
received a grant from the State of Iowa in 1989 for an intensive
survey of the town's commercial districts. The result of this survey
was a Multiple Property Submission
through which nine properties in Iowa Falls were listed in the National
Register of Historic Places. One hundred forty-four other properties,
mostly residential, were also identified in this survey as meriting
further study, and possible National Register nominations.
Clark and the Commission successfully helped establish the Iowa
Falls Main Street program in 1990 shortly before Clark's death.
When the Main Street program was started, the town had 12 vacant
store fronts, some with water flowing out of the front doors. During
the first 10 years, the program attracted over $8 million in private
investment in the commercial district, and resulted in the rehabilitation
of 157 buildings.
Numerous preservation projects are planned for Hardin County's
future. New National Register nominations for Iowa Falls are being
prepared by local preservation activist Molly-Meyers Nauman, who
is also surveying the commercial district in Hampton, Iowa. Iowa
Falls and the organization working to save the Round
Barn will invest an estimated $2.5 million in three historic
preservation projects and one historic district. A $200,000 restoration
of the Illinois Central Combination Depot (Rock
Island Depot) is underway in the town of Ackley and in New Providence
$100,000 has already been spent on the New Providence
School Gymnasium (Round School House) and Honey
Creek Friends' Meetinghouse. The slate roof of the Hardin
County Courthouse will be restored over the next two years,
and a half-million dollar restoration and addition project is underway
at the Alden Public Library. The Eldora
Public Library has been adapted to a new use as an antique store.
All of these projects are being financed through a variety of available
sources including private donations, state and Federal grant programs,
Federal mitigation funds, and ISTEA21 funding.
An earlier bridge that once crossed the Iowa River in Alden had
long united the two sides of this small town. However, by the mid-1930s
the existing wood structure had "long since seen its best day,"
according to the Alden Times. In 1935, the Hardin County
government sought to replace both the Alden and Steamboat Rock bridges
by securing financial assistance from the Works Progress Administration
(WPA). In October, the WPA approved the two projects, which were
a great boon to Alden's unemployed--used as day labor to help construct
the new concrete bridge over the Iowa River. The estimated cost
for the 150-foot-long structure at Alden was $20,000. A WPA grant
funded $11,163 of the total, and Hardin County financed the reminder.
The Iowa State Highway Commission (ISHC) designed the Alden Bridge
as a concrete rigid-frame structure, comprised of two spans supported
by a concrete substructure. The selection of concrete as the construction
material for several Depression-era, WPA-funded bridges was not
coincidental. As described by the October 24, 1935, edition of the
Alden Times: "The bridges will be of the concrete type with
steel reinforcing, since this type provides more employment in building
than all steel construction." The Weldon Brothers Construction Company
of Iowa Falls won the construction contract, work began in January
of 1936, and the bridge was completed that same year. To celebrate
its completion, the town officially dedicated the bridge on July
4, 1936, in conjunction with Independence Day activities, with thousands
of citizens in attendance.
The Alden Bridge was one of five concrete rigid-frame structures
designed by ISHC. The concrete rigid-frame configuration, developed
in Westchester County, New York, in the early 1930s, became especially
popular for federal relief projects during the 1930s. Both picturesque
and practical, the flat-arched design appealed to proponents of
urban beautification. The ISHC, like many state highway departments,
built a tentative number of rigid frames in the 1930s, of which
Alden Bridge is a distinguished, early example.
The Alden Bridge is located on Main St. over the Iowa River,
Standing atop the palisades on the right bank of the Iowa River
in the town of Alden is the unique Alden Public Library. The town
has the distinction of being the smallest community in America to
receive a Carnegie grant to construct a library, and it is believed
to be one of the smallest Carnegie-endowed libraries ever built.
This program, established by the noted industrialist and philanthropist,
Andrew Carnegie, funded construction of numerous libraries throughout
the world. Other examples can be found at the Carnegie-Ellsworth
Public Library in Iowa Falls or the Eldora Public
Library in Eldora. Alden was also the first community in Iowa
to form a library society--the first public library was established
in February 1882 when 225 books were procured. Alden's experience
in establishing a public library is representative of Iowa communities
as a whole during the late 19th- and 20th-century heyday of the
library movement. The Alden Library also reflects the national movement
that sought to obliterate the evils of society by increasing the
availability of education and knowledge to the masses.
The Alden Public Library is a somewhat unusual example of Beaux
Arts Classical design applied to a small scale building. The Des
Moines architectural firm of Wetherell and Gage designed this goldfish-tan
brick building early in 1914, and it was ready for occupancy that
fall. The library was completed at a cost of $9000 and contains
only 3000 square feet and two floors, with the entrance leading
to the elevated main floor. The library has served the town and
surrounding community well since its construction. The library was
recently renovated, and a large addition made to one side of the
The Alden Public Library is located at 1012 Water St., in
Alden. The library is open 1:30pm to 6:30pm Monday; 1:30pm to 5:30pm
Tuesday-Friday; additional morning hours on Tuesday and Friday from
9:00am to 11:30am; and 11:00am to 5:30pm Saturday. Visit the Library's
website at www.aldenlibrary.com for further information.
The Slayton Farms--Round Barn is a good surviving example of a
type of round barn construction mainly found in Iowa--a round barn
built of hollow clay tiles. It is one of 16 such barns believed
to have been built by the Johnston Brothers Clay Works, a Fort Dodge
firm whose model design used two sizes of tile--a smaller tile in
the lower story and a larger tile above. The barn was built in 1915
for Frank Slayton, a member of an influential family in Hardin County.
Hollow clay tile round barns have become a distinctive trait of
Iowa's round barns compared to those found elsewhere. The era of
agricultural prosperity during which these barns were built coincided
with the state's leadership in clay tile production, when massive
efforts were underway to drain her many wetlands in order to expand
cultivation in the area's rich soils. The hollow clay tile silo
was developed by clay tile manufacturers in cooperation with farm
building specialists at Iowa State University and it gained immense
popularity. In similar fashion, the idea for constructing round
hollow tile "silo" barns took hold and encouraged providers to market
tile for building construction as well. The Slayton Farms--Round
Barn exemplifies this type of tile construction.
The barn has a gambrel roof with two differing pitches, and an
attractive hay dormer. Two metal roof aerators are located on either
side of a central silo. Within the barn, the lower level is arranged
in circular fashion around the silo, from which silage was shoveled
for feeding the cattle. An overhead track system and bucket for
hauling materials is virtually intact. Above, loft floor joists
radiate outward from the silo, first to a curved laminated beam
at the interior's center where the stanchions are situated, and
from there extend to the outer hollow clay tile exterior walls.
An interior ventilation system for the cattle in the lower level
carries fresh air from openings up through ventilator pipes running
from the loft floor along side the silo wall up to the metal roof
The barn is located near the southwest edge of Iowa Falls. The
roof is seriously deteriorated and interior damage has occurred
because of exposure to the elements. Local fundraising for restoration
is underway, with the hope of saving this building.
The Slayton Farms--Round Barn is located at 20478 135th St.,
Iowa Falls, south of the Chicago and North Western railroad tracks.
It currently is not open to the public, however, a tour can be arranged
by calling 641-648-4570.
Cemetery Gardener's Cottage
Constructed in 1918, the Union Cemetery Gardener's
Cottage is a well-preserved example of a small Craftsman building,
a very popular style during the first quarter of the 20th century.
The caretakers cottage is a typical example of these small Craftsman
houses that were found in abundance in the pattern-books and mail-order
catalogs of the period. The Gordon Van-Tine catalog of 1917 offered
a "Substantial Hip-roof Cottage with Convenient Porch" that is much
like the gardener's cottage in size and shape as well as design.
Topped by a clay-tile hipped roof this building illustrates an interest
in texture that was an important element of the style, with the
combination of cobblestone, brick, pebbledash stucco and wood trim.
The brick and hollow tile construction method was common to both
the style and period, making a building virtually fire-proof.
This cottage was designed by architect W. L. Peddicord through
a contract issued by the Ladies Social Gathering, who have owned
and operated Union Cemetery since it was established in 1859. When
Iowa Falls was originally laid out in 1855, no provisions were made
for a burying ground, or cemetery. The women of the community took
it upon themselves to remedy this problem and formed an organization
originally called the Social Gathering of Iowa Falls with the objective
"to aid in purchasing grounds for the cemetery or fencing or adorning
the same; shall obtain admission fees, buy and sell various articles
and receive donations to accomplish said object." Still active today,
the Ladies Social Gathering is a a tribute to the pioneer women
of the West. To raise money to purchase land for a cemetery, the
Ladies immediately began making shirts, overalls and stockings,
in addition to piecing quilts. In August 1860 they purchased four
and one-half acres at $40 per acre from the three men who had laid
out the town. The terms of sale required the Ladies to make full
payment for the land within 12 months, which they did by the summer
of 1861. The original portion of the cemetery was heavily covered
with trees, shrubs and bushes. With assistance from male residents,
the Ladies quickly had the trees cut and sold for wood, and cleared
the shrubs and bushes. According to the organizations records the
Ladies planted 60 hard maples, 200 soft maples and 200 evergreens
in 1868. Some of the evergreens remain standing today. The first
addition to the cemetery was made in the 1870s when they purchased
the land immediately east of the four acres. As a result a stone
wall and iron fence were built at the main entrance. Around 1885
a large fountain was installed near the center of the cemetery.
Many of the current members of the Ladies Social Gathering are descendents
of the founders of this cemetery organization--the oldest west of
the Mississippi in continuous operation.
Union Cemetery Gardener's Cottage is located near the center
of the cemetery, which is bounded by Siloam Ave., Cedar St., Pine
St. and Ira Nichols Bird Refuge.
This impressive two-span, open spandrel concrete arch crosses the
Iowa River in Iowa Falls. The Washington Avenue Bridge was opened
in 1934 and carries Washington Avenue (old US Highway 20) through
the center of the city. This structure was preceded by a steel bridge,
known as the Foster Bridge, whose construction history is well-documented
in county records. In late May of 1911, county commissioners adopted
plans and specifications for the proposed bridge and immediately
advertised for construction bids. Fifteen bids, ranging from $8,450
to $11,400, were received by June. Low-bidder Lana Construction
Company of Harlan, Iowa, was awarded the contract, and the company
began work soon after. Evidently the Foster Bridge experienced severe
problems in the next few decades, and these structural difficulties
precipitated construction of a new permanent bridge in 1933. That
year the state highway commission designed this two-span concrete
arch structure and hired the Weldon Brothers Construction Company
of Iowa Falls to build it. Costing $51,710, the Washington Avenue
Bridge was opened ceremoniously on July 24, 1934, by Mrs. F. H.
Cottrell, wife of the Iowa Falls mayor, with several thousand people
in attendance. "I christen thee the Washington Avenue Bridge," she
intoned, "a beautiful bridge over a beautiful river."
Although highway commission engineers typically used riveted steel
trusses for medium-span river crossings in rural settings, they
used concrete open spandrel arches for a number of urban and small
town structures in the 1920s. The Washington Avenue Bridge is distinguished
as a well-preserved, two-span example of this application of urban
bridge design. By using open spandrel arches, the state of Iowa
could achieve a relatively long span at a reasonable cost, while
contributing aesthetically to the urban settings in which the bridges
stood. Since its completion, the spandrel arch has functioned in
place, carrying heavy urban and highway traffic, with only maintenance
related repairs. The city of Iowa Falls assumed ownership of the
bridge in November 1995, when the new US Highway 20 was routed south
of Iowa Falls.
The Washington Avenue Bridge crosses the Iowa River in Iowa
Falls via Washington Ave.
This long span concrete arch carries River Street across the Iowa
River in the city of Iowa Falls. The River Street location has been
a pivotal one in Iowa Falls development. Initially a simple ford,
the crossing was followed by a timber bridge, then an iron structure,
then a 140-foot steel Pratt truss. As the fourth bridge here, the
existing concrete arch River Street Bridge represents the development
of bridge technology in Iowa. Its open spandrel configuration is
unusual in this state. Relatively few such arches were ever built
(all in urban locations like this one), and even fewer remain in
use today. Designed by one of the state's foremost bridge engineers,
it is an excellent example of its structural type.
Plans and specifications for the structure were drafted in 1921
by Des Moines civil engineer James B. Marsh on behalf of the state
highway commission. For this urban crossing, Marsh delineated a
single open spandrel arch, with three massive arch ribs carrying
a series of concrete columns. The bridge would be handsome in its
simplicity, as observed by J. H. Ames, bridge engineer for the Iowa
State Highway Commission, to a member of the Iowa Falls Community
Club: "I am sure that you are going to be pleased with the type
of construction that is proposed, as it will make a very artistic
and substantial bridge." Moreover it would be far more stable than
the earlier span. There was some disagreement among the city, the
county and the state highway commission regarding the height and
location for the proposed structure, but when the county suggested
dropping the project altogether, the city reacted strongly. Local
citizens actively supported the bridge, citing the important commercial
value of the project. Eventually the residents prevailed in securing
financial backing for the bridge's construction, and commissioners
advertised for competitive bids in late spring of 1922. Awarded
the contract that summer, the Welden Brothers Construction Company
of Iowa Falls began work in July by demolishing the earlier bridge.
Completed without incident in 1923 for the aggregate sum of $16,900,
the Iowa River Bridge continues to carry steady traffic in its urban
setting. The structure maintains good physical integrity, with a
1958 widening of its deck and removal of the original guardrails
and electroliers as the most serious alteration.
River Street Bridge is located on River St. and crosses the
Iowa River in the city of Iowa Falls.
School of Domestic Arts
The Edgewood School of Domestic Arts is associated with late 19th-
and early 20th-century Progressive reform activity in the United
States. Founded by Eva Harrington Simplot in 1886, the school expressed
several elements of the social reform movement of the time: individual
philanthropy, concern for the status and condition of women, and
a course of instruction designed to "help people to help themselves."
The large brick building, known as Edgewood, was begun in 1909,
funded both by the Simplots and by community donations of cash,
furniture, and equipment. Edgewood School of Domestic Arts was incorporated
in 1910, and formal departments of sewing, cooking, laundry, millinery,
"fancy work," and music were established. Edgewood was operated
successfully until Mrs. Simplot's death in 1935. More than 900 girls
and young women attended courses here. In her will Simplot gave
the Edgewood property to "the women of Iowa Falls," for use as a
community center--a function it continues to serve today.
The building is of heavy frame construction on a rock faced stone
foundation, with exterior walls faced with dark red brick. The main
block is approximately 66 feet long, with gable roof ridge parallel
to the fašade. At either end of (and at right angles to) the front
fašade are gable-roofed projecting pavilions, which give the building
plan the form of a "U." A large, one-story, flat roofed
porch, supported by short square posts on high brick pedestals,
shelters the area between the pavilions.
Eva Harrington was born in 1856 near Hazleton, Iowa. Her family
earned a precarious existence at farming, and thus, in her teens,
she was forced to support herself as a seamstress. Following a brief
marriage to a man named Smale, Eva went alone to Iowa Falls, and
in 1880 opened a small dressmaking shop, at which she made her living
until her marriage to Walter Simplot in 1886. Several years later,
she survived a severe illness, and found new meaning to life in
philanthropic work. Acting on this impulse, Eva Simplot attended
courses in dressmaking and other domestic arts at Chicago's Armour
Institute. With this formal training, and her own experience, she
opened her Iowa Falls school, in two houses on a large lot overlooking
the Iowa River, in 1896.
The building is located at 719 River St., Iowa Falls, and
is not open to the public.
Post Office--Iowa Falls
The Iowa Falls Post Office (1914) is a Neo-Classical building,
built under the administration of William McAdoo, Secretary of the
Treasury, with Oscar Wendroth, Supervising Architect. The style
was influenced by the architecture of the 1893 Colombian Exposition
in Chicago and was considered to be most appropriate for public
buildings. The high stone foundation, broad entrance stairs, and
pedimented portico are all important elements of the style. While
federal buildings in larger towns were often constructed of stone,
those in smaller communities utilized brick.
Neo-Classical in design, it is constructed of dark red brick laid
in English cross bond, creating an interesting pattern. The building
rests on a high foundation of North Carolina granite. The symmetrical
fašade features a pedimented portico with four monumental Doric
columns 30 inches in diameter and 22 feet high. Three tall round
arched openings are located at the back of the portico. The main
entrance is in the middle. Above the entrance is a beautiful Della
Robia type swag.
The interior of the building has retained a high level of integrity.
The 13 foot by 35 foot lobby retains its white oak woodwork, marble-terrazo
floor and vaulted ceiling. The round arched openings of the exterior
are continued on the interior with multi-pane windows allowing light
to pass from one space to another. An interesting landscape element
in the south lawn are the peonies that were origninally planted
by Abigail Estes Foster, from whom the U.S. Government purchased
the land in 1909.
The US Post Office--Iowa Falls is located at 401 Main St.
and is open to the public 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Park Band Shell
The Estes Park Band Shell is an unusual example of Spanish Colonial
Revival design. The designer of the Estes Park Band Shell was L.
L. Klippel, a man with family ties to Iowa Falls, who appears to
have spent some time in California. The Spanish Colonial Revival
was popular in California and the southwest in the early years of
the 20th century, and drew inspiration from the Spanish missions
located throughout that region. Hallmarks of the style include the
use of stucco for the exterior, red tile for the roof, round arch
fenestration, and wrought iron gates and balconies. Following World
War I it became widely used for hotels, resorts, and grand movie
theaters. There are relatively few examples of the Spanish Colonial
Revival style in Iowa, the majority of which were recreational facilities.
Articles first appeared in the Hardin County Citizen about
the need for a band shell in Estes Park in May 1930. A committee
raised $3,622 for construction, and the band shell was dedicated
in the late summer of 1931 by three bands. The business community
recognized the advantages of the new facility and scheduled fashion
shows for September 10, 1931. A children's show took place after
school and the regular adult show in the evening. In 1940 the Republican
Party held a gigantic rally to hear presidential nominee Wendell
Wilkie speak at the band shell.
The Band Shell is a single-story building measuring 18 by 44 feet.
It is located on the south edge of the park, with the stage opening
to the north, toward the center of the park. Typical of the Spanish
Colonial Revival style, the exterior walls are finished in highly
textured cream-colored stucco with brown trim. The red clay tile
roof and round arch openings are also regular features of this style.
The north elevation is symmetrical, with the stage flanked by projecting
bell towers. The stage area was designed to hold between 50 and
60 musicians at one time.
The Estes Park Band Shell has continued to be a focal point of
community activities. Band concerts are held on a regular basis,
teen dances are sponsored during the summer, with Big Band dances
for the adults. The River Bend Rally over the 4th of July makes
extensive use of the facility for all sorts of entertainment activities.
The Estes Park Band Shell is located in Iowa Falls, in Estes
Park within the central business district, between Main and North
Stevens Sts., to the west and east respectively, and West Rocksylvania
St., to the north. The Band Shell is accessible 24 hours a day for
external viewing only.
The Carnegie-Ellsworth Public Library (1904-05), is one of 22 public
libraries in Iowa constructed with Carnegie grants made in 1903,
the year which marks the highest point in Carnegie giving, both
nationally and in the state. Eugene S. Ellsworth made an additional
cash donation. Andrew Carnegie's library program, which funded over
1600 buildings, has been accorded recognition by historians of the
Progressive Era, and of the public library movement. Between 1889
and 1919, 101 Carnegie libraries were built in Iowa, including the
Alden Public Library and Eldora
The Carnegie-Ellsworth Library is one of the more elaborate library
buildings of its size and type. The fašade is dominated by a large
and lavish entrance pavilion featuring a distinctive portico with
Ionic style columns set in-antis between rusticated corner piers
and a semi-circular window above the cornice. The effect of richness
is enhanced by the variety of materials, textures and colors. The
interior features an octagonal rotunda with a double-curved delivery
desk and a stained-glass dome. Now known as the Carnegie-Ellsworth
Building, the library recently reopend after a $1 million restoration,
and now houses a local visitor information center, the Iowa Falls
Chamber/Main Street and Iowa Falls Area Development Corporation.
In addition, part of an international art collection and the exhibits
of the he Iowa Falls Historical Society are now on display here.
The Carnegie-Ellsworth Public Library is located at 520 Rocksylvania Ave., in Iowa Falls. The building has been restored and is open to the public.
Organized nationally in 1883, the Women's Relief Corps was one
of at least three women's organizations created to serve the country's
veterans. Members were responsible for decorating veteran's graves
on Decoration Day, caring for disabled veterans, and seeing to the
needs of widows and orphans of Civil War veterans.
Shortly after the Charles Payne Post of the Grand Army of the
Republic was organized in Iowa Falls in 1883, the women of the community
chartered Payne Post #48 of the W.R.C. in 1886. The current hall
was completed in 1898 after several years of fundraising. Their
fund raising activities and their dedicated service to veterans
and their families continued. But as time passed membership dwindled.
After years of Easter programs, entertainment, oyster suppers, flower
sales and tireless efforts to care for the graves of veterans, the
hall was deeded to the American Legion. The Legion deeded it to
the City, which sold it to a local individual. The building was
recently sold again to a local bridal and formal wear business.
The segmented arched windows and bracketed metal cornice are the
primary design elements, which give this building its Italianate
character. The adaptation made at street level to identify this
as something other than a retail business was accomplished very
simply, by the asymmetrical placement of the entrance and the use
of tall slender windows rather than large pieces of plate glass.
The building is located at 710 Washington Ave. and is open
to the public during normal business hours.
The Sentinel Block (1905) is a good example of a Romantic Revival
style commercial building. It also illustrates the important position
held by community newspapers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Iowa Falls Sentinel was born as the Eldora Sentinel
in 1857. When Marcus Woodruff relocated the newspaper to Iowa
Falls in 1865, he had an eye on the future. Business in Iowa Falls
was brisk, the population was growing, and the promise of continued
growth was strong. The year after Woodruff moved his paper, the
town received rail transportation, a strong assurance to businessmen
that growth would follow in Iowa Falls. In 1883 the Iowa Falls
Sentinel received competition from the Hardin County Citizen,
which began the battle for supremacy among the editors of the two
local newspapers. The high point in the newspapers' competition
was 1904-1905, when S. B. Stonebrook took charge and decided to
erect a new office for the paper, which became the Sentinel Block.
The town supported two newspapers until 1927 when Ira A. Nichols,
owner of the competition, purchased the Sentinel and silenced
The Sentinel Block represents a departure from earlier commercial
buildings in Iowa Falls. These had almost all been Italianate in
design with decorative hoodmolds and heavy metal cornices. With
the new century came a new interest in a simpler form. The Sentinel
Block represents an early expression of this. The hoodmolds have
been replaced by rectilinear brick panels, and the cornice consists
entirely of brick patterning with a very plain stone cap. The crenellated
parapet on the corner oriel window bay may have been a reaction
to the Queen Anne influence of the 1890s. The main level has undergone
a substantial rehabilitation and is now occupied by the investment
firm of Edward Jones, Inc.
The building is located at 702 Washington Ave., in Iowa Falls.
The first floor and basement of the Sentinel Block Building are
occupied by businesses and are open to the public during normal
The 1913 McClanahan Block is a two-story storefront brick building
located on the south side of Washington Avenue, in the middle of
the 600 block. It is a good example of simplified commercial design
from the second decade of this century.
The McClanahan block illustrates the "new, modern" designs that
were in favor in 1913. Rather than projecting hoodmolds and cornices,
the new buildings featured a fašade where the visual interest was
on the surface and was created through brick patterns, colors and
inset panels of stone or concrete. The storefront proper features
a deeply recessed entry flanked by glass display windows. Marble
panels are found below the glass. The original prism glass transom
is fully revealed. The simplicity of the exterior design is common
to commercial buildings built from 1910 to 1920, and is similar
to that seen on the building immediately west, which was constructed
in 1914 as the Rex Theater and features a glazed white brick fašade.
The interior of the building is remarkably unchanged. The first
floor retail space remains undivided from front to rear with the
exception of an office partition that does not extend to the ceiling.
This allows light from the north and the south to flood into the
shop. The original pressed metal ceiling is fully visible. The original
occupant of the first floor was a hardware store, and Dr. McClanahan,
a dentist, had his offices on the second floor.
The McClanahan Block, located at 613 Washington Ave., in Iowa
Falls, is currently occupied by a gifts and collectibles business
open during normal business hours.
The Princess--Sweet Shop is an outstanding example of Art Deco
design from 1935. The Carrara glass fašade, and streamlined woodwork
are typical of Art Deco design of the 1920s and 1930s, but a rarity
in a small town in Iowa. This building replaced a brick building,
which burned on Christmas day 1934. The owners displayed a great
deal of faith in the architect, and in the people of Iowa Falls
too. The community was somewhat surprised when a drawing of the
new fašade was released to the newspaper. Not only was the design
modern, both inside and out, but the equipment was utmost in efficiency
and convenience. It was the first building in town to be air-conditioned.
Gas ranges replaced the old wood and coal stoves that had been used
before the fire, and gas water heaters provided sufficient water
for the washing and sterilizing of the dishes. The total cost for
the building and equipment of the Princess was approximately $30,000,
a surprising amount during the years of the Great Depression.
When the Princess--Sweet Shop reopened, the citizens of Iowa Falls
could once again treat themselves to Princess "velvet" ice cream;
Princess homemade candies and Chinese food. The chef was Yee Foong
Young. The fašade of the Princess is outstanding; the street level
features black Carrara glass with a pale green linear design at
the corners and sides and dark zigzag treatment enframing the second
floor windows. Trim on the building is "pitco" metal. The neon
sign, which extends out from the fašade, was designed by the Pioneer
Neon Sign Company of Minneapolis and was one of the largest in central
Iowa in 1935.
The interior also retains a very high level of integrity and displays
significant detailing. The 25-foot-long fountain with stools and
original equipment still produces old fashioned shakes. The candy
display cases are now used to display local school children's art
projects. The fixtures are made of two-tone walnut. Panels of figured
oriental walnut of light shades, imported from Africa, are at the
ends of the tables in the booths. Avodire veneer and American Black
Walnut is used in the booth suites, which have carved rosettes inlaid
at the ends.
The Princess--Sweet Shop is located at 607 Washington Ave.,
in Iowa Falls. Still a cafe and ice cream parlor, it is open from
11:00am to 2:00pm and again for dinner at 4:00pm Monday-Saturday.
The 1918 First National Bank is a fine, relatively unaltered, example
of Neo-Classical bank design from the second decade of this century,
and demonstrates the strong growth in Iowa Falls at that time. The
current building replaced an earlier brick bank building erected
here in 1884. The first quarter of the century was a period of growth
for the entire community which lasted until the national banking
collapse closed First National's doors on December 21, 1932. The
city was without a bank until the Iowa Falls State Bank was organized
and opened on May 25, 1933.
The Lytle Company of Sioux City, which specialized in bank designs,
was the architectural firm hired to design First National Bank.
It is known that the firm designed at least 25 banks, primarily
for Iowa communities. The architectural firm achieved a rich surface
pattern through the lavish use of terra cotta with special colors
of brick. When the bank opened, the blue-black exterior was described
as "Hy-tex Mission Chinchilla face brick, with vanilla and cream
full enamel satin finish terra cotta." The main entrance is flanked
by monumental terra cotta free-standing Corinthian columns resting
on granite bases. The main doorway features a terra cotta surround
with a rich variety of Neo-classical details: egg and dart and bead
and reel moldings, rosettes, and a full denticulated entablature
above. The granite base, brick parapet, terra cotta cornice, and
brick pilasters continue around the east elevation with two-story
windows placed between the pilasters. The terra cotta detailing
on this building is so rich that the producer, the American Terra
Cotta Company, featured a drawing of one of the capitals in its
company publication, Common Clay. The interior features a
cashiers' counter and side wall of green veined cream colored marble
with a 10-inch Westfield green marble base. The interior woodwork
is of "Tabasco Mahogany."
The First National Bank Building is located at 601 Washington
Ave., in Iowa Falls. The bank is open to the public during normal
business hours by appointment, 9:00am to 3:00pm Monday-Friday. Please
call 641-648-5171 for further information.
The design and construction of the Metropolitan Opera House (1899)
was commissioned by one of Iowa Falls' most noted citizens, Eugene
S. Ellsworth. At the time of its opening at the turn of the century,
the theater was considered the most attractive and complete opera
house in the state. Attendance at the grand opening performance
numbered 800 people, making the evening the "biggest social event
in the history of Iowa Falls." The theater soon gained a reputation
as the "big time theater in a little town." Patrons came from miles
around for the productions staged here, such as Faust, Uncle
Tom's Cabin, and The Merchant of Venice. John Phillip
Sousa's band performed more than once on the stage. By the late
1920s, vaudeville and silent movies had become the stock-in-trade
and the first sound system was installed in 1930. From that time
until 1952, Ellsworth College drama productions, high school plays,
dance recitals, and concerts were still performed between movie
The three-story fašade of the Metropolitan is executed in one of
the popular late 19th-century modes, Italian Renaissance. This fašade
is rich in the detailing of the style; quoined from grade to the
frieze, the frieze is garlanded and topped with a bracket-supported
cornice, fenestration consists of three types of windows on the
second and third stories. The first story is simpler. A single storefront
entrance flanked by a corbelled arch serves as the theater entrance.
The main floor of the original theater once seated 441 and the balcony
seated 390. The stage was 66 feet wide and 30 feet deep with large
wings to either side. The second and third floors at the front of
the building were occupied by offices. A third floor ballroom is
still mostly intact but has not been restored. In 1997 the building
was renovated by it's current owner Bob Fridley, an entertainment
company owner from Des Moines. There are now two movie theaters
inside, and the second and third floor offices house the projection
and sound equipment.
The building is located at 515 Washington Ave., in Iowa Falls.
Now a movie theater, call 641-648-3605 for further information on
Constructed in 1902, the Ellsworth-Jones Building illustrates the
importance of Eugene S. Ellsworth, businessman and philanthropist.
Ellsworth was a land broker, town developer, and philanthropist
of immense success. The firm of Ellsworth and Jones, headquartered
in Iowa Falls, purchased and sold land throughout the state of Iowa
and other mid-western states. The Ellsworth-Jones Building is a
superbly intact example of Neo-Classical commercial architecture.
The three-story reddish-brown brick building clearly reflects the
tastes and affluence of its builder. Typical details from this period
include the egg and dart motif of the columns at street level and
the dentil work on the cornice. Ionic and Doric columns, Roman arches,
acanthus leaf keystones, and foliated decorative elements are other
decorative elements found on the exterior of the Ellsworth-Jones
Building. There is also a three-story safe, still in use, on the
interior of the building.
Ellsworth was active in more than business affairs. He was also
instrumental in Iowa Falls' development. He helped secure rail transportation,
telephone communication, a golf course, and constructed significant
commercial buildings for the city. At the time of his death, he
was one of the four wealthiest men in Iowa.
The Ellsworth-Jones Building is located at 511 Washington Ave.,
in Iowa Falls. The building is currently occupied by Nissly and
Nissly, an accounting and farm management firm, and is not open
to the public
Matthew's by the Bridge Episcopal Church
St. Matthew's by the Bridge, constructed in 1913, is a good local
example of a Tudor Revival style church. The Tudor Revival style
was very popular during the early part of the 20th century and was
commonly used for residences, offices and school buildings, as well
as churches. The church designer, Robert Layton, was an industrial
arts teacher in the Iowa Falls School System. An Englishman, Layton
returned to his old home on a visit in 1912, and made sketches of
several village churches in the area. Armed with these sketches,
he drew the plans from which St. Matthew's was built the following
year. Two of his students, Louis and Ernie Weldon, assisted him
in making the blueprints.
The church is a single-story rectangular building measuring 24
by 60 feet perched on the palisade overlooking the Iowa River. The
building is of wood frame construction covered with stucco. The
gable ends have a simple simulated half-timbered effect and paneled
verge boards. Diagonal braces appear to support the roof. The interior
of St. Matthew's remains basically unchanged. The altar is located
at the east end of the sanctuary. The aisle is arranged just to
the left of center, with narrow pews along the north wall. The interior
structural system of King posts, Queen posts, collar beams, and
struts makes a dramatic vertical statement. The feeling of the sanctuary
is that of a small, intimate place of worship.
St. Matthew's by the Bridge Episcopal Church is located at Oak
and Railroad Sts. next to the Oak Street Bridge, in Iowa Falls.
Tours are available by appointment. Please call 641-648-5314 or
648-4017 for information. Donations are accepted and a special organ
mini-concert is available.
This long-span concrete structure spans the Iowa River in Iowa
Falls. Carrying U.S. Highway 65 (Oak Street) in a somewhat urban
setting, this open spandrel arch features two massive ribs, upon
which bear a series of paneled concrete columns. At its construction
in 1928, the Iowa State Highway Commission (ISHC) described the
bridge as the "longest arch span either concrete or steel in the
state of Iowa." The Weldon Brothers Construction Company built the
255-foot long Iowa Falls Bridge at a total cost of $51,375. The
Iowa Department of Transportation awarded the construction contract
to the Iowa Falls firm on July 9, 1927. The ISHC used this banner
headline to depict the concrete landmark: "Nature Gives Scenic Beauty
Touch to New Jefferson Highway Bridge at Iowa Falls." Since its
completion, the Iowa Falls Bridge has carried a steady stream of
urban traffic for 65 years with minimal alterations.
"Iowa Falls residents are fortunate in having the most beautiful
and most picturesque section of the Iowa River thru the heart of
the town," the ISHC stated in 1927. Although highway commission
engineers typically used riveted steel trusses for medium-span river
crossings in rural settings, they used concrete open spandrel arches
for a number of urban and small town structures in the 1920s. The
Mederville Bridge, built in 1918, was apparently the first of these,
designed as an alternate to a steel truss bridge. This was followed
by the Adair Viaduct in 1923 and the Iowa Falls Bridge in 1928.
By using open spandrel arches, ISHC could achieve a relatively long
span at a reasonable cost, while contributing aesthetically to the
urban settings in which the bridges stood. But given the restrictive
parameters of the arches' use--urban setting, long-span crossing,
sufficient vertical clearance--only a few were built during this
period. The Iowa Falls Bridge is distinguished as a well-preserved
example of this application of urban bridge design. A centerpiece
for this small city, it is a local landmark and an important transportation-related
The Iowa Falls Bridge is still in use today at the crossing
of Hwy. 65 South (Oak St.) over the Iowa River .
Falls Union Depot
The 1902 Iowa Falls Union Depot is a variation of the second generation
of passenger depots that the Illinois Central Railroad erected in
smaller towns from the 1890s to the 1920s. This period coincides
with the heyday of railroading in Iowa, during which the Illinois
Central replaced its original wooden two-story depots with more
permanent brick buildings. While the depot designs were limited
by their functions, as reflected in nearly identical floor plans,
they were at the same time tailored to each town's particular needs.
The depot's floor plan reveals its origin as a union station, a
rare depot type in Iowa along the Illinois Central's Iowa Division
rail line. The depot represents the direct association between the
Illinois Central and Des Moines, Iowa Falls & Northern Railroads
(DMIFN). The DMIFN was organized by E. S. Ellsworth
and other prominent Iowa Falls citizens in 1899. During the years
that the railroad operated as an independent company (1902-1908)
it shared depot facilities with the Illinois Central. In addition
to representing the Illinois Central's shift toward brick replacement
depots in Iowa during the early 1900s the Iowa Falls depot illustrates
the individual history of railroads in Iowa Falls.
The design of the depot is stylistically eclectic with Italian
Renaissance Revival influences. It is a one-story, four by one-bay,
rectangular building, with a pavilion-with-ells plan. Small bay
windows mirroring each other project from its north and south sides.
The depot foundation is concrete with a partial basement for the
boiler under the east end. The walls are brick veneer but 13 inches
thick, which suggests masonry construction underneath the veneer.
The roof is hipped with the central pavilion higher than the eastern
and western ells. Diamond-shaped asphalt shingles and cast concrete
copings cover the roof, which also has two interior brick chimneys
with stone caps.
The Iowa Falls Union Depot is located at East Rocksylvania Ave.
and Depot St. It is currently undergoing a complete restoration
and will not be ready for tours until mid-2002. For more information
please call the Iowa Falls Historical Society at 641-648-4603.
Tower Historic District
The Mills Tower Historic District encompasses the eastern portion
of the Illinois Central (IC) railroad yard, on the eastern edge
of Iowa Falls. The small district consists of several structures
which date to the last two periods of Iowa railroad history. Most
alterations to the district have been to Mills Tower, the oldest
of the group. Mills Tower is a good example of the second generation
utilitarian support structures the IC built between the 1880s and
1930s to control traffic along their lines. Mills Tower is the only
interlocking tower left in Iowa, out of nearly 70 previously in
operation at various times and places.
Mills Tower probably replaced the original Iowa Falls junction
in 1909, when the IC built a new river crossing and the new line
made the older junction obsolete. The actual date of construction
is unknown. Unlike the first tower, which "was doubtless of the
'Armstrong' variety" (having manually operated levers) Mills Tower
employed electrically operated levers. Mills governed the switches
in the IC yard west of the tower as well as the older Rock Island
crossing with the IC. In 1985 the Chicago Central & Pacific Railroad
purchased the IC and its employees refer to the tower as a "relic"
and a "fossil." The first floor was once used for offices and the
second floor is the control room, as its many windows attest. The
key feature of the tower has always been the original electric control
board sitting in the middle of the room. A large train order signal
stands right next to the building, on the north side. Next to the
tracks and just west of the crossing diamond is a smaller metal
pole with two slender metal hoops. Train orders for the next segment
of track were tied loosely to the hoops so the engineer could grasp
the papers with his hand while the train slowed for the crossing.
The Mills Tower Historic District is located on East Rocksylvania
Ave., approximately 1/3 mile east of the old freight house and Illinois
Central Depot. There are no tours, as the Mills Tower and two contributing
buildings are undergoing a restoration; as is a caboose, restored
to Illinois Central colors, now located on the property. For information
please call the Iowa Falls Historical Society at 641-648-4603.
Central Combination Depot--Ackley
Built in 1926 to replace two former wooden buildings, the Illinois
Central Combination Depot located in Ackley, is a substantial brick
building exhibiting characteristics of the Prairie style with a
Tudor Revival influence. The Ackley depot is an example of a second-generation
depot that the Illinois Central Railroad began constructing in Iowa
in the early 20th century. The company replaced several of its depots
between the 1890s and the 1920s, a period which roughly coincides
with the golden age of steam railroading in Iowa. Replacing its
original, wooden one-and two-story combination stations, the company
erected brick depots with hipped roofs in the larger towns and cities
along its main Iowa line. The Ackley depot was one of the last replacement
stations the company designed before the Depression. In 1925 the
two-story wood combination depot in Ackley was 60 years old and
probably in need of repair.
As Ackley possessed a flourmill, two grain elevators, a cement
factory, a pickling factory and several lumberyards and warehouses
by this time, the business generated in Ackley justified the construction
of a new station, rather than repairing the old one. Plans were
drawn in 1926 by J. H. Schott, an Iowa Central architect, and after
minor revisions the building contract was let to the Coomer and
Small Construction Company of Sioux City. The Illinois Central Combination
Depot contained a freight room, a heater room, a coal room, a ticket
office and other rooms necessary for a depot. It is a one-story,
12 by 3 bay building with an off-center, rectangular trackside bay
window. The building measures 115 and a half feet wide by 28 feet
deep. The foundation is concrete, and the depot walls are solid
brick. Passenger service was discontinued in 1970 and the depot
was permanently closed in May of 1980. This working style depot
is currently scheduled for restoration work through a grant from
the Iowa Department of Transportation.
The Illinois Central Combination Depot--Ackley is located North
of Park Ave., between State and Mitchell Sts. in Ackley. The site
is undergoing restoration and will not be open until mid-2002.
While the First Congregational Church has been a part of the community
since the Society was organized in 1868, the present building was
constructed from 1893 to 1894. Located adjacent to Eldora's commercial
district, a short distance northeast of the
Hardin County Courthouse, the First Congregational
Church remains a noteworthy landmark in the central Iowa community.
At the time of its construction, the building boasted a complete
system of electric lighting--a total of 96 lights were in use. It
was designed in the late Victorian Romanesque Revival style by noted
Iowa architect Charles Durham. Durham's influence extended far beyond
Iowa's borders because of his extensive practice in surrounding
states and publication of his designs in national periodicals like
Scientific American, American Architect and Building News,
and Carpentry and Building. Church design was one of his
specialties, and the First Congregational Church is one of four
designed by Durham that is still intact.
The Church measures 47 by 90 feet and is built of the best LeGrand
hammer dressed limestone of uniform thickness. The tower is 12 by
12 feet and extends 57 and a half feet above the top of the cornice
line. Door sills and steps are of the best blue stone. The interior
of the Church is finished in antique oak and "hard pine." The stained
glass windows remain much as they were when installed. The First
Congregational Church is locally significant as a well-executed
example of Romanesque Revival ecclesiastical design.
The First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) is
located at 1209-12th St., in Eldora. Call 641-939-3113 for
times of services and further information.
Locally significant as the historical focus of county government,
the Hardin County Courthouse is a fine example of Victorian Romanesque
courthouses, richly detailed on the exterior. Constructed in 1892
at a cost of $48,000, the courthouse is an architectural amalgamation
of several styles. Designed by architect T. D. Allen, the imposing
brick and stone facade of the building is characterestic of the
Richardsonian Romanesque. Romanesque arches, resting upon polished
red granite columns, grace the north and south entrances. However,
the corner turrets, hipped roof, cross gables and cut stone trimmings
are distinctive Queen Anne features. The 128-foot high clock tower
is reminiscent of Italian gothic town centers. The building exterior
is of St. Louis pressed brick and pink Kasota stone. Semi-circular
transoms adorn the upper middle east and west windows. These transoms
feature the great seal of the State of Iowa etched onto frosted
glass. Statues depicting Justice, Mercy and Liberty stand enshrined
in an alcove beneath the clock tower.
The large entrance arch on short, tripled columns, and the checkerboard
patterning in the brick and rock faced stone, are additional fine
details. Hardin County had been attached to Marshall County for
revenue and judicial purposes until it was duly organized in February
1853. Eldora was picked as the county seat, and the first county
courthouse was a two-story frame building erected in 1856. In October
of that same year it was destroyed by fire and a new courthouse
was built in 1857. At about this time, an effort was made to move
the county seat to Point Pleasant, but a contested vote landed the
matter in litigation. After 10 years, the Supreme Court finally
decided in favor of Eldora in June 1868.
The Hardin County Courthouse faces Hwy. 175 on the square, in
the middle of Eldora. Tours are offered 8:00am to 4:30pm weekdays,
but must be scheduled two weeks in advance. Please call 641-648-4570 or e-mail
email@example.com for further information.
The Eldora Public Library, built from 1902 to 1903, is one of the
group of libraries (see also the Alden Public Library
and Carnegie-Ellsworth Public Library) constructed
in Iowa with Carnegie grants and is a vivid reminder of one of the
20th century's most remarkable philanthropic efforts. In 1853, at
the age of 18, Andrew Carnegie began work for the Pennsylvania Railroad
as a telegrapher. With several shrewd investments, Carnegie soon
found himself a wealthy man, but did not begin to accumulate his
staggering fortune until he opened his first steel mills in the
1870s. In 1901, Carnegie became the world's richest man when he
sold the Carnegie Steel Company for $450 million dollars (approximately
$8.6 billion today.) During his years as a giant of American industry,
Carnegie established a reputation for ruthlessness, instructing
his business partners to brutally put down union strikes and repeatedly
slash the wages of the workers who made him rich. After the sale
of Carnegie Steel, Carnegie threw his full energies into philanthropy
and peace, perhaps hoping that donating his wealth to charitable
causes would mitigate the details of its accumulation. In the public
memory, he may have been correct. Today he is most remembered for
his generous gifts of music halls, educational grants, and nearly
3000 public libraries, among them the Eldora Public Library.
Representative of the Academic Eclecticism prevalent at the turn
of the century, the Eldora Public Library displays design elements
from a combination of influences. Its facade is constructed of asymmetrical
massing of interesting gables. The exterior exibits a restrained
northern Renaissance Revival style, with a Georgian-inspired doorway,
the elliptical pediment of which echoes the curved shape of the
gable above it. The radiating stack room projects substantially
from the rear of the building and is connected to the left-hand
reading room through a diminutive semi-octagonal reference alcove.
The interior exhibits elaborate medieval inspired craftsman with
dark woodwork and contrasting light walls, somewhat atypical of
small town libraries. Wall surfaces are divided into panels by dark
wood strips. The building is chiefly significant for its interior,
and the plan is an interesting variation on the standard sexpartite
The Eldora Public Library is located at 1219 14th Ave. south
of the Courthouse in Eldora. It is now an antique
store open during normal business hours.
Providence School Gymnasium
The New Providence School Gymnasium was erected in 1936 to enhance
the educational experience of the students attending the New Providence
Consolidated School. Constructed as a Public Works Adminstration
(PWA) project, the two-story round, double wall building was constructed
with 13 inch hollow tile blocks with a brick exterior. Although
it was not the first round gym in Iowa, it was the first one of
this size and, when constructed, was the most modern gym in the
locality. The entrance is on the ground level and is open to the
full height of the building with windows on three sides. On either
side of the entryway are two wooden staircases which ascend to the
gymnasium and descend into the lunchroom. The upper floor holds
the basketball court, stage, and bleachers. The basketball court
is 72 by 38 feet. A steel structural system carries the dome, about
35 feet at its highest point, allowing for a clear span on the interior.
The New Providence School Gymnasium was one of 32 PWA school buildings
planned by Keffer & Jones, Architects, of Des Moines, Iowa. J. E.
Lovejoy Construction of Des Moines was the contractor. Its style
is the PWA Moderne typical of numerous federal government buildings
of the 1930s and 1940s. At the time of its construction, the round
shape of the building was so unusual that many people made fun of
it. All the basketball tournaments in the area were hosted here.
After serving the community for more than 50 years as a school facility,
the gymnasium is now being restored and maintained by a non-profit
community betterment organization, Renewal Community, Inc. as a
community activity center. This spacious and well-equipped facility
has become a popular place for graduation receptions, birthday parties,
family Christmas gatherings, and the annual Halloween Carnival.
The New Providence School Gymnasium is located at 106 N Main
Ave., New Providence, Iowa. It is not open to the public, but to
schedule an event call Kay Clampitt at 641-497-5353.
Creek Friends' Meetinghouse
Church members and local builder, Ernie Moon, constructed the Quaker
Honey Creek Friends' Meeting House in 1916. Roy and Bert Wilson,
with Moon's advice and much help from church members, laid the first
brick and constructed the building. The meeting house is constructed
of clay tile, with exterior walls veneered in brick. The main gable
is oriented north-south, with an intersecting front gable on the
east side. A smaller gable is set asymmetrically at the outer corner
of the north and east gable ends. The latter small gable, supported
on square brick piers, shelters the main entrance. Behind it rises
a short square bell tower with crenellated parapet and pairs of
elliptical arched openings on each side of the bell chamber. The
small gable on the north side covers a secondary entrance and vestibule.
The meeting room or sanctuary is illuminated on north, south and
east by large segmental arched openings housing a multi-light transom,
below which is a tripartite grouping of two nine-over-one double
hung sash windows flanking a central 15-over-one double hung sash
window. All other window openings are simply rectilinear. The main
entrance consists of a pair of paneled doors, each topped with a
semi-circular light. It opens into a vestibule and stairhall (the
sanctuary is a few steps above the level of the entrance) that in
turn leads into the meeting room proper. This room occupies most
of the main floor area.
The Honey Creek Monthly Meeting was first organized in 1852, by
a group of Friends originally from Yadkin County, North Carolina.
They arrived in Hardin County in 1851. The first meeting house was
a log building, erected in 1854. It was replaced, after a fire in
1859, with a 32 by 48 foot building that, with various subsequent
additions, was used until 1916. Although there are no longer regular
services held at the Honey Creek Meeting House there are several
events that still take place within the building. The Honey Creek
Preservation Group meets regularly to make decisions regarding maintenance
and sponsoring annual events. The Honey Creek Meeting House also
possesses a wealth of historical information that has been catalogued
and filed for access to interested parties. This information includes
genealogical records, personal histories, letters, church statistical
records, books by local authors, and other items.
The Honey Creek Meeting House is located at 31031 PP Ave.,
two miles south and a half miles west of New Providence, Iowa. It
is not regularly open to the public, but for further information
on special events or to reserve the facility call Judy Staples at
641-497-5799; Dee Reece at 641-497-5499; Paul and Alice Williams
at 641-497-5391; or Vera Cutler at 641-497-5458.
By clicking on one of these links, you can go directly to a particular
Bibliography for Hardin County, Iowa
Hardin County, Iowa, Children's Literature
Links to Hardin County Tourism and Preservation
for Hardin County, Iowa
Bergman, Marvin, ed. Iowa History Reader. Ames, IA: State
Historical Society of Iowa in association with Iowa State University
Carpenter, Allan and Randy Lyon, with Carl Provorse. Between
Two Rivers: Iowa Year by Year, 1846-1996. Ames, IA: Iowa State
University Press, 1997.
Collins, James M. The Iowa River Greenbelt: an Archaeological
Landscape. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa, 1991.
History of Hardin County. Eldora, IA: Hardin County Historical
Society, 1981. (available from Higginson Book Co., 148 Washington
St., Dept. P., Salem, MA 01970).
Ingalls, Marlin R. Architectural Resources and Settlement Landscapes
of Hardin and Grundy Counties in North Central Iowa. Iowa City,
Iowa Biographical Dictionary: People of All Times and Places
Who Have Been Important to the History and Life of the State.
New York, N.Y.: Somerset Publishers, 1996.
Naumann, Molly Myers. Architectural and Historical Sites Survey
of Iowa Falls, Iowa. Iowa Falls, IA. 1991.
Nichols, I.A. History of Iowa Falls. Fort Dodge, IA: Messenger
Printing Company, 1955. (recently reprinted and available from the
Iowa Falls Historical Society, PO Box 364, Iowa Falls, IA 50126).
Nichols, I.A. Pioneer Days. Fort Dodge, IA: Messenger Printing
(recently reprinted and available from the Iowa Falls Historical
Society, PO Box 364, Iowa Falls, IA 50126).
Riley, Glenda, ed. Prairie Voices: Iowa's Pioneering Women.
Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press, 1996.
Schmidt , Duane A., and Loren Horton. Iowa Pride. Ames,
IA: Iowa State University Press, 1996.
Schwieder, Dorothy. Iowa: the Middle Land. Ames, IA: Iowa
State University Press, 1996.
Silag, Bill, ed. Outside in: African-American history in Iowa,
1838-2000. Des Moines, IA: State Historical Society of Iowa,
War on the Homefront: WWII Stories and Letters of Solidiers
and Families from Hardin County. Times Citizen Communications:
Iowa Falls, IA. 2000 (available from www.iafalls.com).
County, Iowa, Children's Literature
Mahan, Bruce E. and Ruth A. Gallaher. Stories of Iowa for Boys
and Girls. New York, Macmillan, 1929.
San Souci , Robert D., and Max Ginsburg (Illustrator). Kate
Shelley: Bound for Legend. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers,
Fradin , Dennis Brindel. Iowa (From Sea to Shining Sea).
Children's Press: 1995.
Hardin County Tourism and Preservation
Sponsored by the Hardin County Community Development Council, this
website has a wealth of information for visitors and residents of
the county, including a calendar of events, historical information
on each town, and links to such area attactions as the Ackley Heritage
Center and Scenic City Empress river boat. There is also further
information available through local area guides for Ackley,
Official county government website with information on many resources
and services available.
& Smokestacks National Heritage Area
This regional heritage tourism program, involving more than 80 communities,
sites, and attractions in northeastern Iowa, is dedicated to becoming
the premier destination for showcasing and interpreting American
State Historical Society
Find further information on the programs of the Iowa State Historic
Preservation Office at this website for the state organization dedicated
to Iowa's historical legacy and its role as an advocate for understanding
Office of Tourism
Official state government website that offers tourist information
on events, attractions, travel, and tourism throughout the state
Street Iowa Program
Many Iowa communties, including Iowa Falls, have adopted this program's
approach to downtown revitalization through economic development
within the context of historic preservation.
A nonprofit organization that builds partnerships and educates Iowans
to protect, preserve and enhance Iowa's natural resources for future
Dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of traditional
Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall
Visit this site for a detailed history of Andrew Carnegie and the
for Historic Preservation
Learn about the programs of and membership in the oldest national
non-profit preservation organization.
National Park Service Office
National parks have been interwoven with tourism from their earliest
days. This website highlights the ways in which the NPS promotes
and supports sustainable, responsible, informed, and managed visitor
use through cooperation and coordination with the tourism industry.
National Scenic Byways Program
This website, maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, includes information on state and nationally designated byway routes throughout America based on their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities. Visit the America’s Byways Great River Road website for more ideas.
Hardin County, Iowa, was produced by the National Park Service
(NPS), U.S. Department of the Interior, in cooperation with the
Hardin County Community Development Council, Iowa Falls Historic
Preservation Commission, Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage
Area, Iowa State Historical Society, and the National Conference
of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO). It was created
under the direction of Carol D. Shull, Keeper of the National Register
of Historic Places, National Park Service, Patrick Andrus, Heritage
Tourism Director, and Beth L. Savage, Publications Director. Hardin
County, Iowa, is based on information in the files of the National
Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks collections.
These materials are kept at 800 North Capitol St., Washington, D.C.,
and are open to the public from 8:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm to
4:00pm, Monday through Friday.
The Hardin County Community Development Council and Iowa Falls
Historic Preservation Commission conceptualized and compiled all
photographic and written materials for the itinerary, especially
guided by project manager Rod Scott. The itinerary was designed
by Nathan Poe, independent contractor with the National Register.
National Register web production team members Shannon Bell, Jeff
Joeckel, and Rustin Quaide (all of NCSHPO), coordinated project
production and provided editorial and web assistance. Yen M. Tang
(National Council for Preservation Education) assisted with preparing
the photographs. Special thanks to those who provided invaluable
assistance including Jerry Aldrich; Lee Babcock; Sue Crotty, Curator
of the Iowa Falls Historical Society; Gene Farmer; Judy Staples;
the Ackley Heritage Center and Historic Society; and Lindsay Photography.