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State Historical Society of Iowa

State Historical Society of Iowa awards grants to 24 Iowa communities

Jul 17, 2023

DES MOINES – The State Historical Society of Iowa has awarded nearly $600,000 in grants to preserve Iowa’s historical collections and country schools, invest in communities through historic preservation, and promote Iowa history.

The grants support 26 projects in 24 Iowa communities, from Orange City to Burlington and Greenfield to Decorah. Funding comes from the State Historical Society’s Country School Grant Program and the Historical Resource Development Program, funded through the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program.

“Today’s grant recipients have a strong connection to the history of our state and we’re delighted to partner with them to preserve our past,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. “Their passion and commitment to Iowa history will inspire the next generation of Iowans to make sure our state’s legacy lives on. Congratulations to this year’s grant recipients.”

The Country School Grant program helps to preserve or maintain Iowa's one- or two-room country schools or to provide historical interpretation or educational activities related to the school.

The Historical Resource Development Program grants help preserve, conserve, interpret, enhance and educate the public about historic preservation, museum collections and documentary collections.

Following is the list of grant recipients announced today:


(Community), (Recipient)
(Project), (Amount)

Country Schools

Orange City, Dutch American Heritage Museum
Museum Schoolhouse Roof, $5,000
In 2021-22, the Dutch American Heritage Museum painted the exterior of its schoolhouse and revamped interior exhibits. The grant funding will help the museum complete the preservation of the building with a new roof.

Documentary Collections

Amana, Amana Heritage Society
Media Collection Digitization Project Phase III, $5,650
The Amana Heritage Society will digitize film reels and audio tapes, which include people from Amana's Communal Era (1855-1932). The recordings will be used in exhibits and videos to offer insight into life in Amana as it transitioned from its communal roots to a more modern lifestyle.

Cedar Falls, University of Northern Iowa
Fortepan Iowa Workshops at the University of Northern Iowa, $18,877
This project will create a series of workshops and a webinar about the Fortepan Iowa program, scanning protocols, collection workflows, tagging, Traditional Knowledge labels (for photos of  Indigenous people), and a forthcoming Mainstreet 360º capability.

Creston, Creston Historic Preservation Commission
Union County Historical Newspapers Digitization Project, $12,270
Creston and Afton newspapers from around 1878 to 1925 are saved on microfilm but are not online. This project will digitize these historic newspapers and make them available and searchable on the local public library website.

Lansing, Friends of the Lansing Library
Digitization of Lansing Journal and Lansing Mirror, 1925-2003, $5,097
Funding will be used to expand a searchable database of Lansing newspapers to include editions from 1925 to 2003. The database currently contains editions from 1863 to 1924, and the expansion will provide researchers additional digital sources of information.

Tipton, Cedar County Historical Society
Digitization & Microfilm of Tipton Advertiser, Conservative Newspapers 1853-2021, $18,295
This project will digitize newspaper microfilm of the Tipton Advertiser, Advertiser & Gazette, Conservative & Gazette, Conservative & Advertiser (1853-2012) and the Tipton Conservative (1940-1943). It will also microfilm and digitize the Tipton Conservative (1890-1940) and Tipton Conservative & Advertiser (2012-2021).

Waukee, Iowa Jewish Historical Society
Easier Public Access & Long-Term Preservation of IJHS Oral History Collection, $20,000
This project will document old recordings in the Iowa Jewish Historical Society’s oral history collection, conduct and document new oral history interviews with members of the statewide Jewish community, and preserve and provide easy access to them.

Historic Preservation

Bloomfield, John and Raquel Bohi
Exterior repairs to the Weaver House, $50,000
This project entails much-needed repairs to the Weaver House's sandstone foundation and masonry.  Work will include repair and replacement of sandstone as well as tuckpointing the foundation and brick walls.

Burlington, City of Burlington
Central Fire and Police Station Roof Replacement, $50,000
The Central Fire and Police Station has served the Burlington Fire Department as its primary fire station since 1907. This funding will replace and enhance the roof with new shingles, gutters, downspouts, underlayment and a metal drip-edge along the perimeter.

Cedar Rapids, St. Paul's United Methodist Church
St. Paul's History & Archive Room Renovation Project, $16,000
Funding will renovate two rooms (originally Sunday school rooms) to their original state and create an inviting place for the public and congregation to view and explore the church's archival materials and history, which dates to the 1850s.

Decorah, Winneshiek County Historical Society
Repointing of WCHS Landers House North Façade, Phase 1, $7,010
This funding will help the Winneshiek County Historical Society raise an additional $7,010 needed to prepare and tuckpoint exterior bricks with lime-based mortar. The work will preserve the north facade (Phase 1) of the historic 1860 soft-brick building for future generations.

Dubuque, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Dubuque
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Dubuque Storm Window Project, $24,000
In order to make the building more energy efficient, this project will install storm windows that enhance its historic appearance, protect recently restored wood window sashes, and allow fresh air to circulate inside during the warmer months.

Elgin, The Elgin Historical Society
Tribes of the Turkey River Interpretive Center Window Rehabilitation, $25,500
This project will rehabilitate existing primary windows and install new storm windows in the Elgin Historical Museum. The results will increase energy efficiency and protect artifacts in “Tribes of the Turkey River Interpretive Center,” a future exhibit that honors the Indigenous history of the Turkey River Valley.

Greenfield, Greenfield Historic Preservation Commission
Tastee-Freez/Tiger Drive-In National Register Nomination Project, $3,854
This project will enable the Greenfield Historic Preservation Commission to hire a historic preservation consultant to research and prepare a nomination for the Tastee-Freez/Tiger Drive-In in Greenfield, Iowa, to the National Register of Historic Places.

Iowa City, Public Space One
Repair/Preservation of Exterior Wooden Architectural Features on the Close House, $23,842
The Close House is a valuable and rare example of Italianate architecture and of Iowa City's industrial history. This project will repair and preserve its exterior wooden architectural elements and unique characteristics of the Italianate style.

Keosauqua, Van Buren County Conservation
Odd Fellows Hall Rehabilitation, $41,035
This project will preserve the historic Odd Fellows Hall building to ensure its continued use as a historic site, museum and economic catalyst. Funding will be used to replace failing support structures, install an exterior interpretative sign and positively impact the Bentonsport Historic District.

Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon/Lisbon Community Charitable Development Group
Mount Vernon Visitors Center Masonry Preservation Project, $11,305
The Mount Vernon Visitors Center was originally constructed in 1912 to serve as medical offices. This funding will help preserve its masonry by removing and replacing deteriorated mortar, tuckpointing the whole structure and repairing stone window sills.

Nevada, Camelot Theater Foundation
Camelot Theater Facade Restoration and Addition of Fire Exit, $36,840
Funding will be used to finalize the preservation and restoration of the brick exterior, including tuckpointing, replacement of seven architectural window pediments, and adding a fire exit door. The project will preserve the historical landmark and promote growth in the community.

New Virginia, Lapland Arts, Preservation, Literary and New Directions Network
Little Red School House Preservation, $50,000
This project will preserve and restore the exterior of the Little Red School House. The work will allow interior restoration to begin at a later date. Built in 1881, the Little Red School House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

West Des Moines, Commonwealth Properties LLC
122 5th St., $50,000
Funding will support interior and exterior rehabilitation of the Mary E. Moore Building at 122 Fifth St. in West Des Moines. This 2-story 1893 structure adjoins buildings on each side and is a contributing resource in a National Register Historic District.

Wilton, Wilton Historic Preservation Commission
Intensive Level Survey On Two Historic Neighborhoods In Wilton, Iowa, $17,500
Funding will be used to hire a historian to conduct a survey of two potential historic districts in Wilton, Iowa. The historian and volunteers will research properties and educate the community about the benefits of districts being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Amana, Amana Heritage Society
Homestead General Store Collections Inventory Project, $7,000
The Amana Heritage Society will inventory and clean the museum collections stored in the historic Homestead General Store building before transforming it into the Amana Heritage Society's Folk Art Museum.

Ames, Ames History Museum
Ames History Museum – Reading & Research Room, $22,025
This project will see a transformational expansion of new public spaces called the Reading & Research Room and adjacent Pantorium Lobby. The Reading & Research Room will serve reference and archival collections and the Pantorium Lobby will have exhibits on display.

Davenport, German American Heritage Center and Museum
Restoring Paintings at the German American Heritage Center and Museum, $3,900
In Spring 2024, the German American Heritage Center and Museum will hold the exhibition “Art from the Archive,” with various artworks from its collection. Five paintings will be restored and two frames will be repaired before they go on display.

Davenport, Mississippi Valley Blues Society
Educating and Celebrating the History of Blues Music at Davenport's new MLK Park, $25,000
This project will create and share a local history resource focused on Black musicians, including local musicians, who made major contributions to Blues music. The interactive physical and digital exhibition will honor 40 Blues artists who received the Blues Society's River Road Award with displays at MLK Park in Davenport.

Spillville, Bily Clocks Museum & Antonin Dvorak Exhibit
Protection of Priceless Cultural Artifacts, $24,501
Funding will be used to install a new HVAC system that will create a more appropriate temperature and humidity environment for preserving and protecting irreplaceable hand-carved wooden clocks, organs played by Dvorak, and other wood collections.

The State Historical Society of Iowa has been a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy since 1857. With a dual mission of preservation and education, it maintains a museum, two research centers, and seven historic sites. The society preserves and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources through a variety of statewide programs, exhibitions and projects while serving as an advocate for Iowa’s past and connector to the future. The society is part of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.