Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas around the area

"ELDON — The Christmas spirit resounded in southeast Iowa this weekend with celebrations in cities all around.

In Eldon children started the day by making gingerbread houses from candies and frosting at the American Gothic House Visitors Center."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Gingerbread Wonderland Event at AGHC

Eldon— An old fashioned Christmas will be in full swing in the town of Eldon this weekend, and children of all ages are invited to create gingerbread houses at the American Gothic House Center this Saturday, December 8th from 2:00 – 4:00 PM. Graham crackers, candy decorations and gooey frosting along with adult helpers will be provided.

The “American Gothic” Santa with his red and white striped overalls, red blazer and cheery Mrs. Claus are waiting to pose for pictures with you indoors. Visitors are welcome to view the center’s main exhibit and seasonal “Misty Water-colored Memories” exhibit by Dr. R. H. Intress, a former Eldonean.

The gift shop with many American Gothic-themed items will be open to please you with Christmas cards, note cards, T-shirts, tea towels, sweatshirts, handcrafted items, prints and books about Grant Wood.

After you’ve visited the McHaffey Opera House Winter Tree Wonderland & Nativity Display and the Rock Island Christmas Depot with its trains, stop in to make and take a gingerbread house, have your photo taken and shop for that special someone.

Other events include a GATE Christmas dinner served at the KD Center from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM, a special Christmas surprise downtown at the American Legion Building at 1:00 PM for kids of all ages and the Boy Scout Soup Supper at the KD Center from 5:00 – 7:00 PM.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Photo help at Gothic Center thanks to grant

"ELDON — Want your picture taken in the cut-outs at the American Gothic House Center?

If you do and you forget your camera, the center’s staff can help you thanks to a $2,500 grant from the Wapello County Foundation."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

American Gothic Photos Available on Site

Eldon— The American Gothic House Center gives thanks for the $2,500 grant received from the Wapello County Foundation. Now visitors can have their pictures taken by a Sony camera and printed immediately on an Epson printer. American Gothic look-alikes can purchase quality 4” x 6” pictures of their memory in front of the house. This new service will add to the center’s bottom line.

Included in the grant are a Sony Cyber-shot camera and a portable PC-free printer by Epson Picture Map Snap, which enables center personnel to take the printing show on the road. They can capture those cute shots of merrymakers in the American Gothic wooden cut-outs.

Also included is Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium software package, which allows the center to manage its website and design its promotional pieces. It’s a technological dream come true for AGHC director, Jessi Strom, with thanks for the continuing support of the Wapello County Foundation.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Of "Intress" - Misty Water-Colored Memories Exhibit

Eldon— Dr. Robert H. Intress MD’s "Misty Water-Colored Memories" exhibit features images of the Rock Island Depot, grain elevator, old railroad bridge, locomotives, Sandy Lane School, brick kiln and brickyard, Exchange Hotel and memories of Eldon Christmas celebrations of the l930's.

Intress ExhibitDr. Intress presented the American Gothic House Center with original watercolors drawn from his childhood memories of Eldon. Dr. Intress describes himself as “a very amateur painter,” but his memories are something all native Eldonites can relate to. This trip down memory lane can be celebrated in the media room from the November 30th Opening through January 6, 2008.

Intress ExhibitIntress’ grandfather Dr. S.H. Sawyers was Eldon’s doctor from 1890 through l950. His parents were Carl and Alice (Sawyers) Intress. Mr. Carl Intress was a Rock Island fireman-engineer for 50 years.

Intress ExhibitDr. Intress is a graduate of Eldon High School Class of l938 and earned his medical degree from the University of Iowa in l944. In addition to 41 years of practicing medicine in Amarillo, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico, Intress Exhibithe volunteered 6 years of service with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He and his wife now reside in Waynesboro, VA.

The Opening of Intress’s Misty Water-Colored Memories Exhibit will be held Friday evening November 30 from 5:00 – 7:00 PM at the American Gothic House Center. All are welcome.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oak Savannah Planting at Center

Eldon—Tuesday afternoon Cardinal High School students Danny Luna, Marcus Giltner, Andrea Fults and Curtis Fiedler hustled to plant the first trees of the oak savannah project at the American Gothic House Center. Tuesday evening Quenton Sims, Dakota Wilbanks, Auston Hummell and Lewis Aszman from Ottumwa Cub Scout Pack #11--with Den Leader Teresa Wilbanks, Cub Master Cheryl Carness and parent Robert Aszman--planted one more tree.

Tree PlantingStudents and cub scouts dug holes, filled in, watered and mulched the newly-planted trees under the direction of Administrator Jessi Strom and volunteers Dennis Donaldson of Ottumwa and Dennis Jeffrey of Eldon.

A grant from Alliant Energy/Trees Forever generated the funds for the oak savannah featuring burr oaks, white oaks and red oaks. Tree PlantingOther trees to augment the oaks are basswood, black cherry, red maples, white pine, service berries and burning bushes.

Wapello County Conservation workers Lincoln Utt and Paul Totten transported trees and continued planting with volunteers on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Proud of Visitors Center at American Gothic House

We are so proud of our new Visitors Center at the American Gothic House here in Eldon.

Anyone that hasn’t taken the time to drive out to visit it has missed a local treasure. Allen and I have been volunteering there since it opened in June. We really enjoy meeting folks from all over the world. I like to read the comments folks have written in the guest book. Seems like our local folks are really surprised at how very nice it is.

Anyone who enjoys people should consider becoming a volunteer. We have had folks from Yorkshire, England; they had flown into Chicago, rented a car and were going to travel here for six weeks. This was one of their first stops. They had been to the Art Institute in Chicago and seen the original painting the day before. We had a family with nine children from Idaho. They were on their way to Nauvoo, Ill., to be part of the play there. Everyone is so friendly and those who don’t know about the painting’s history are happy to have it explained or watch the 30-minute film, “Grant Wood’s America.” Our administrator, Jessica Strom, is well-versed on the history and has several books about Grant Wood for the volunteers to get “boned up.”

There is a nice gift shop with books, T-shirts and many other items for sale. One of the most popular things is the rack of clothes for folks to put on, including a three-tined pitchfork and gold-rimmed glasses. They really enjoy going out and having one of the volunteers take their picture in front of the house. I always tell them, “Now, this is one picture that you don’t smile.” This is all free!

This is truly the dream of many of our local folks. Don Gettings and Helen Glasson worked very hard for many years to get it. Now, it is a reality. Hats off to the committee and the many people that have worked in the past to get this done. Take this as an open invitation to one and all to come for a visit.

Rosie Morrison


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eldon Does Something Cool - Plants Trees With Help From Trees Forever and Alliant Energy

Eldon— Volunteers and community leaders in Eldon are planting trees to provide shade and save energy through the Trees Forever and Alliant Energy Branching Out community tree-planting program.

“We’re looking forward to working with Trees Forever and Alliant Energy this year to plant trees,” says Jessica Strom. “Together, we are growing a better environment while making our community more beautiful and attractive.”

“Trees Forever and Alliant Energy are committed to improving the environment and our quality of life. Especially this year when many communities were hit hard by the late winter storms that damaged or destroyed so many trees,” says Shannon Ramsay, Trees Forever President and CEO. “We thank our local volunteers in Eldon for their dedication and hard work and look forward to helping with positive solutions this year--- tree by tree, neighborhood by neighborhood.”

Check PresentationAlliant Energy will award $64,962.00 in grants to assist 15 Iowa communities and groups with tree-planting projects this fall. Eldon will receive $5,000 for its ambitious tree-planting project.

Planting trees helps reduce peak electric demand, keeps communities healthy and vital, and provides long-term environmental benefits.

“Energy efficiency is important to us and we believe our investment in tree planting and education will help our customers become more aware of the benefits that trees have to offer,” said Tom Aller, president of Alliant Energy-Interstate Power and Light. “We care about the communities we serve and welcome the opportunity to help them.”

If you would like to volunteer to help plant and care for trees in Eldon, please call Jessica Strom at (641) 652-3352 or Trees Forever at 1-800-369-1269.

Branching Out grant applications are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year, but are considered for funding during two grant-making cycles (spring and fall). The next application deadline is November 1, 2007. Spring 2008 grant recipients will be announced in December. For more information, contact Trees Forever at 1-800-369-1269. Applications are available online at or

Branching Outis a nationally-recognized program where Alliant Energy, Trees Forever and Iowa communities work together to plan and create outstanding tree-planting projects. The program is designed to encourage energy efficiency, environmental awareness, and community stewardship in Iowa.

Branching Outis offered exclusively to Iowa communities where Alliant Energy provides electric and/or natural gas service. The utility provides grants of between $500 and $10,000 for community-based, tree-planting projects – like parks, gateways, cemeteries, nature trails, libraries, nursing homes, schools and more. Trees Forever administers the program, providing technical and planning support.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Behind Grant Wood’s canvas

"This couple doesn’t need any convincing. She dips her left foot gingerly into the patterned purple dress, pulling it up to her neck. Her husband hooks the Union Bay overalls at his chest and reaches to help her close the clasp.

“It almost fits me,” she says, while tying the apron behind her back."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

$5,000 Alliant Energy / Trees Forever Grant Awarded

Eldon— The American Gothic House Center (AGHC) of Eldon, Iowa has been awarded a $5,000 Alliant Energy / Trees Forever grant through its Branching Out program. The check will be presented at the Eldon City Council meeting Tuesday, September 11, 2007.

The AGHC project will include planting a concentration of Oak trees, other non-Oak deciduous trees, Eastern Red Cedars and Serviceberries for a total of 36 trees. The goal of the project is to include a variety of trees native to Southeast Iowa. The AGHC is seeking additional funds to incorporate the Oak trees into a Prairie Oak Savannah restoration.

The trees will be planted by the Wapello County Conservation Board beginning Monday, November 12, 2007. Please contact Jessi Strom at 641-652-3352 if you would like to be a part of the tree planting.

Branching Out is a nationally-recognized grant program through which Alliant Energy, Trees Forever and local community leaders work together to fund and implement tree-planting projects. The program is designed to encourage energy efficiency, environmental awareness and community involvement in Iowa.

Since the start of the Branching Out program in 1989, more than 1.1 million trees and seedlings have been planted as part of 2,188 Iowa projects by a volunteer force of 111,117 people. Environmentally, the trees planted represent a kilowatt hour savings of 13,918,553—or enough energy to power more than 1,700 average-size residential homes for one year.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Struggling Iowa town finds hope in American Gothic painting

"ELDON, Iowa — The perfectly arched and cross-paned gothic window is everywhere.

It is among the blue ribbon winners at the Wapello County Fair crafts barn, built out of 16 Popsicle sticks. It's printed on yellow banners that hang from lampposts lining Elm Street. And down American Gothic Street, it sits atop the white cottage."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thanks for supporting Gothic House Center

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the community of Eldon and Wapello County for their support of our new American Gothic House Center. We had a successful grand opening Saturday, June 9, with about 300-350 visitors the day of the opening and another 350 since.

The enthusiasm for the facility and exhibit has been great. The committee responsible for raising the funds and grants for the building, the volunteers who signed up to help operate the gift shop, give tours and clean the facility, and the many visitors who have already stopped by show that there is a strong passion for Grant Wood and his American Gothic.

Visitors enjoy putting together the magnetic puzzles in the exhibit hall, putting on American Gothic costumes to take their own picture in front of the original house and watching the animated film “Dropping in on Grant Wood.”

A big thanks goes out to the contractors who worked so hard to have a parking lot, road and sidewalk done in time, the individuals who helped bake cookies for our opening reception, the many volunteers who raised the necessary funds to pay for this project (and continue to do so as new needs are discovered) and everyone who gave what they could — whether it was time, talent or money.

Thank you.

Jessica Strom

Friday, June 8, 2007

Great day planned at Gothic Days celebration

"ELDON — Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting will come alive today at the annual Gothic Days celebration."

Friday, June 1, 2007

New center a highlight of next weekend’s Eldon Gothic Days

"ELDON — This year, Eldon has twice as much to celebrate at Eldon Gothic Days. In addition to the traditional activities, supporters will celebrate the opening of the much anticipated visitor center."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Strom named Gothic House Visitors Center administrator

"ELDON — The American Gothic House Visitor Center has gained another friend — professional curator Jessi Strom."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Excitement growing in Eldon

"ELDON — Excitement is the only thing building faster than the construction crew at the Gothic House Visitor’s Center."