Friday, May 30, 2008

5K Run/Walk & Bike Ride: 1st Anniversary Activities at the American Gothic House Center

Eldon—This June marks the first anniversary of the American Gothic House Center (AGHC). In celebration the AGHC has added two new events to this year’s annual Gothic Days celebration in Eldon. Pre-register for the 5K Run/Walk and/or the 20+ Mile Bike Ride by Monday, June 2nd and get a discount!

The first annual American Gothic 5K Run/Walk is Saturday morning, June 14 at 8:30 am (registration begins at 7:45 am) and is sponsored by Libertyville Savings Bank, Kremer Funeral Home, the Eldon Kwik Shop and RPM Graphics. The 5K course will take outdoor enthusiasts down through the Wapello County Fair Grounds, along the River Road and will end by traveling the American Gothic Trail back up to the American Gothic House Center. Participants will receive a t-shirt and a chance to win a trophy or award with their registration.

The first annual 20+ Mile American Gothic Bike Ride will take place Sunday morning, June 15 at 8:30 am (registration begins at 7:45 am) and is sponsored by Libertyville Savings Bank, Riverside Cyclery, AJ’s Bicycle Shop and Golden Furrow. Bikers will begin at the AGHC, travel south on Highway 16 through Selma on down to the turn around point in Douds. A map will be provided with an optional route on the gravel roads along the Des Moines River. A t-shirt and post-ride pizza are included with registration.

Call the American Gothic House Center at 641-652-3352 to sign up now!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

American Gothic House Committee Honored with Award

Eldon—The American Gothic House Committee received the Loren Horton Community History Award for the Best Use of Volunteers last Monday, May 19 in Des Moines, IA at the State Historical Society of Iowa.

For the full press release, see below.

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
600 E. Locust Street
Des Moines, IA 50319

Contact: Jeff Morgan, 515-281-3858

SHSI announces historic preservation, community history awards

DES MOINES – The State Historical Society of Iowa today announced historic preservation and community history awards during “Celebrate Community History,” an event that celebrates May as National Historic Preservation Month.

Historians, historic preservationists and others gathered for the event, which was created in 1995 with the 10-year anniversary of the Certified Local Government Program. Today’s event recognized Iowa’s varied and important historic properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and groups and individuals for their work in preserving Iowa’s rich heritage.

“This event is a celebration of our historic assets and efforts undertaken during the last year to preserve them,” said Cyndi Pederson, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “We are pleased to recognize the projects and the people who devote their time, energy and resources to ensure our heritage is kept alive for future generations of Iowans to enjoy.”

Awards and certificates presented today included Preservation Projects of Merit; National Register of Historic Places Certificates; Cultural & Entertainment Districts; Certified Local Government Awards of Grant Funds: Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance Best of Preservation Award; National History Day in Iowa “Kids Count!” Award; Benjamin F. Shambaugh Award; Loren Horton Community History Award; Petersen/Harlan Award and the Mills/Noun Popular History Award.

Celebrate Community History is sponsored by SHSI, the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance and the Iowa Gaming Association.

Following is a list of award and certificate recipients recognized today:

The Award of Merit recognizes outstanding historic tax credit projects that exemplify the best of preservation practices and meet the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings.
Award Recipients:

  • Residential Property: Sherrill Mount House, Sherrill, Mark Maiers
  • Commercial Project Under $500,000: Upper Main, Dubuque, Gronen Properties, LLC
  • Commercial Project Over $500,000: Armstrong Apartments, Clinton, Community Housing Initiatives, Inc.
  • Special Recognition: Hurst Hotel, Maquoketa, Signature Properties

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Properties listed on the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture.
Certificate Recipients:

  • Beaconsfield Supply Store, Beaconsfield
  • Chevre B’Nai Yisroel Synagogue, Council Bluffs
  • Lincoln-Fairview Historic District, Council Bluffs
  • Louis C. and Amelia L. Schmidt House, Davenport
  • D.S. Chamberlain Building, Des Moines
  • Dubuque Star Brewery, Dubuque
  • Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm Historic District, Fairfield
  • Fort Madison Downtown Historic Commercial District, Fort Madison
  • Knoxville WPA Athletic Field Historic District, Knoxville
  • Edmundson Park Historic District, Oskaloosa
  • Netcott-Pfeiffer House, Parkersburg
  • First Christian Church, Pella
  • Julius and Anine Overson House, Sioux City
  • Williges Building, Sioux City
  • Antlers Hotel, Spirit Lake
  • Tabor Antislavery Historic District, Tabor
  • Hunter School, Tabor Vicinity
  • Youngville CafĂ©, Watkins Vicinity
  • City Hotel, Wheatland
  • Lincoln Township Mausoleum, Zearing

A Cultural and Entertainment District is a well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use compact area of a city in which a high concentration of cultural facilities serve as the anchor. The following represent the most recent communities to be given this title:

  • Oskaloosa Cultural & Entertainment District
  • Grinnell Cultural & Entertainment District
  • Cody Road Cultural & Entertainment District, LeClaire

Jointly administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office, the Certified Local Government Program is a model and a cost-effective local, state and federal partnership that promotes historic preservation at the grassroots level across the nation.
2008 Award Recipients:

  • Ames Historic Preservation Commission, College Heights Intensive and Architectural Survey
  • Coon Rapids Historic Preservation Commission, Survey and Evaluation of the Coon Rapids Commercial District
  • Dubuque Historic Preservation Commission, Downtown Design Guidelines
  • Monona County Historic Preservation Commission, Survey of the Onawa Downtown District
  • Sioux City Historic Preservation Commission, Survey of the Downtown Commercial District
  • Washington Historic Preservation Commission, Planning for Preservation Project

This award recognizes outstanding historic preservation projects in a wide range of categories. The awards, given annually, recognize projects that demonstrate a commitment to maintaining and preserving Iowa’s cultural heritage.
Award Recipients:

  • Residential – Single Family: 323 E. 4th St., Spencer, Martin Arthur, Julie Schmidt and Lee Vogel
  • Public Building – Charles Theater: Charles City, Veronica Litterer, Stoney Point Players and Charles City Art Council
  • Commercial – Small Building: Breadeaux Building, Hampton, Joel and Kim Orr
  • Commercial – Large Building: Dubuque Star Brewery, Dubuque, David Johnson and City of Dubuque Planning Services
  • Mixed Use – Dubuque Casket Company: Dubuque, David Johnson and City of Dubuque Planning Services
  • Mixed Use – 500 E. Locust, Suite 500, Des Moines: Sam Erickson, Community Housing Initiatives, Inc.

The “Kids Count!” awards recognize Iowa libraries, archives and museums for providing outstanding service to young student researchers.
Certificate of Achievement Recipient:

  • African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa, Cedar Rapids

Certificate of Merit Recipients:

  • Cowles Library – Drake University, Des Moines
  • Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, West Branch

This award recognizes the most significant book published on Iowa history during the previous calendar year.
Award Recipient:

  • Wilson J. Warren, Tied to the Great Packing Machine: The Midwest and Meatpacking, published by University of Iowa Press

Certificates of Recognition:

  • William B. Friedricks, Investing in Iowa: the Life and Times of F.M. Hubbell, published by The Iowan Books
  • Abigail Foerstner, James Van Allen: The First Eight Billion Miles, published by University of Iowa Press

The Loren Horton Community History Award recognizes the best project that increases the awareness of and participation in Iowa history on a local level.
Loren Horton Community History Award

  • Danville High School Fine Arts Students, “A Living Legacy of Danville History”

Loren Horton Certificate of Recognition Recipients

  • Outstanding Research or Publication: Judy M. Holzmer, “Diary of Walter C. Laughead: Company D, 50th Iowa Volunteer Infantry”
  • Outstanding Use of Volunteers: American Gothic House Committee, Edlon, “American Gothic house Visitor Center Project”
  • Outstanding Project in Museum: The Putnam Museum and IMAX Theater, Davenport, “Bringing History to Life: The Civil War Years”

The Petersen/Harlan Award recognizes an individual, group or organization that has made significant long-term or continuing contributions to Iowa history.

  • Dorothy Schwieder, Ames

This award recognizes the author of the most significant article on an Iowa history topic published in a popular history periodical during the previous calendar year. It is named in honor of Iowa reporter and popular historian George Mills and Iowa historian and philanthropist Louise Noun.

Award Recipient

  • Dr. Thomas Morain, Pardon Me, Governor: Ernest Rathbun, William Harding and the Politics of Justice, Iowa Heritage Illustrated, Winter 2005

Honorable Mention

  • Tim Lane, Saint Patterson and His Duck Soup, Iowa Heritage Illustrated, Summer 2005
  • Leah D. Rogers and Clare L. Kerneck, The Lincoln Highway’s Seedling Mile, Iowa Heritage Illustrated, Fall 2005


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. More information about SHSI is available at

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Exhibit and Extended Hours!

Eldon—This Memorial Day Weekend marks the opening of a new summer exhibit about how Grant Wood ended up in Eldon to discover the house made famous as the background of his most parodied painting. The new exhibit was funded in part by grant monies received from the Alliant Energy Foundation.

Thanks to the support of volunteers, there will be extended hours this weekend. The Center will be open Saturday, May 24 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Sunday, May 25 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, and Monday, May 26 from just after the Veterans Memorial Service to 4:00 pm. Come learn about American Gothic, Grant Wood and how he ended up in Eldon to discover this special little house.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Free Workshop on How to Take the American Gothic Photo

Eldon—Join us Thursday, May 22 at 6:00 PM to learn how to take your own reproduction of “American Gothic” in front of the house that inspired the masterpiece. Learn about where the couple and photographer should stand, what props you might consider using and how to frame the photo to get a close approximation of the original painting.

Don’t forget to bring your camera and a smile or frown. Costumes, hayfork and antique glasses will be available. Photographers will practice on each other, or you can bring your own couple to practice on.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's Not Too Late to Enter the American Gothic House Art Contest!

Eldon— American Gothic House Center (AGHC) and Gothic Area Tourism of Eldon (GATE) join together in sponsoring the third annual art contest during the 2008 Gothic Days, June 13-15.

The art contest celebrates the house used as the background of Grant Wood’s most famous painting American Gothic. Entries must include the American Gothic House. The contest will promote greater awareness of the uniqueness and beauty of the little white house with its gothic window.

Submitted works will be returned. Minimum size will be 8” x 10”—no maximum size. Contest is open to amateur artists only in the following three divisions:

  • Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
  • Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
  • Adult

Prize money in the amount of $50 for 1st place and $25 for 2nd place will be awarded for each division.

Judging will take place Friday evening, with the exhibition planned for Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15 from 1 PM to 4 PM at the AGHC in Eldon, Iowa. Official entry forms are required, and artwork must be submitted by Friday, June 6.

For entry forms, complete rules and further information, contact AGHC; Jessica Strom; 300 American Gothic St; Eldon, IA 52554; 641-652-3352;

GATE is a nonprofit community betterment organization and no entry fee will be sought from submissions or participants.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Schedule Change to the American Gothic House Spring Plantings

Eldon— Pack your shovels, gloves, hat and a snack for some fun in the sun at the American Gothic House Center Monday morning, May 12 at 9:00 am to help with some spring plantings.

The originally scheduled butterfly garden program has been delayed, as the seedlings are not yet ready for the ground. Instead, staff and volunteers will replace ten redbud trees that didn’t make it and spread more mulch around existing trees.