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Current view of Edgewood School of Domestic Arts
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

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.

Historic view of Edgewood School of Domestic Arts
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

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.

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