Preservation Iowa Newsletter – Winter 2016

As we look back on 2016 Preservation has accomplished some very important things which affect the Preservation Community.
Preservation Iowa has a core mission to advocate for the preservation of historic properties, districts, and other assets in Iowa. We have worked hard to encourage preservation and educational efforts through mini-grants, summits, seminars, advocacy with governmental agencies, and we have vastly improved communication to our members and others via our website and Quarterly news letters.
This year P.I. was involved with the statewide historic preservation conference in Davenport, Iowa with the Preservation at its Best Awards; the Country School Mini-Grant Program in conjunction with the Annual Country School Conference held in Eldridge, Iowa; development of our expanding online Consultants Listing; and the progressive movement of our Most Endangered Listings.
Please join our membership as we continue our efforts in 2017 and best wishes to all readers on a prosperous and progressive year ahead.


President’s Remarks

This is my final “President’s Letter” for Preservation Iowa.  I have served on the Board of Directors for six years and served as President these last two years.  I have enjoyed my time as President of the Board, as so much has been learned over these past years.  Leading a non-profit organization has been rewarding and challenging.  I am so pleased to have been given the opportunity to serve.

In the past year we have dramatically strengthened the organization.  The new Preservation Iowa website was a “must-do” and it has greatly enhanced our ability to reach members and others interested in historic preservation.  We get a remarkable number of visits to the web site and this tells me there is a great deal of potential growth for membership in the organization.

The internal workings of the organization have been also improved with increased efficiency and standardized operating procedures which have been reduced to a written manual to allow for smooth transitions from year to year.  Preservation Iowa has the tools it needs to expand its reach across Iowa.  I am very excited about the organization’s future and proud to have been a part of the team which has brought it to this point.

Josh Moe of Iowa City will be the incoming President.  He is an ardent believer in Historic Preservation of buildings and other historic items.  He is an architect by training and occupation, with a good eye for preservation in that context.  He brings youth and energy to the office and I am very pleased he will be at the helm in the months ahead.  As he knows, I can and will be available in whatever capacity the Board deems useful.

A final thought from me about preservation.  I feel strongly the tide is beginning to turn among the general population, especially the younger population, and a much higher value is being placed on historic structures, and artifacts which help us define our communities and our State.  One of Preservation Iowa’s underlying goals is to encourage and cultivate this changing ethic.

In my opinion it is sensible, both culturally and economically, to retrofit and reuse the beautiful buildings and places throughout the State of Iowa rather than demolish or denigrate them.  Their renovated presence within a community help us to define our identity and our history.  These proud structures whisper to dignity of tradesmen and contractors from years long gone.  They are testimonials to the pride we took in our communities and in our ability to create out of wood, stone, brick.  Each of our historic buildings and places have a story to tell.

Having said this, I also believe historic preservation must proceed hand in hand with an economic engine capable of sustaining these places.  Preservation must be executed with a strong dose of common sense.

Iowa has been for many years a leader in this arena.  I am proud that Iowa is one of the most successful states in the union when it comes to the handling of historic preservation incentives like State Historic Tax Credits and other incentives.  Iowans are very fortunate that for many many years the leadership in Des Moines and understood the value of saving our historic fiber in the form of brick and mortar and in other forms as well.

As I leave this role, I encourage all who are interested in preservation to take these steps:

  • Join the ranks of our membership at Preservation Iowa and get involved in a committee or a special project.
  • Make it clear to elected officials that these programs which encourage preservation are important to you as a tax payer. Let state and federal legislators know that you are proud of the results these incentive programs have yielded and you want them to stay around for the years to come.
  • Patronize businesses who chose to locate in historic districts and historic buildings. By spending your hard earned money in their business you indirectly support the building and the ideology of preservation.
  • Become involved on a local level. Find a Historic Preservation Commission to join, engage in community based projects to restore historic materials or buildings.
  1. And finally, be a part of the movement that I mentioned earlier, which embraces the ethic that what is old and historically significant is inherently valuable and should be maintained and preserved and used so that future generations may also enjoy the story it has to tell.

Kevin J. Kuckelman, President 2014-2016
Preservation Iowa

Herring Hotel Update

2016 Most Endangered Property Designee Update
Herring Hotel, Belle Plaine
Submitted by Kristine Pope, Herring Hotel Building Alliance (HHBA)

Herring Hotel in Belle Plaine, IA, circa 1922.

The last year (really two) have been a huge success for the Herring Hotel project. Little work has been done to the structure, yet we feel confident that this will be changing very soon. Through educational lectures, events, and presentations the Herring Hotel Building Alliance (HHBA) has been able to share how important the Herring Hotel and its history is to Belle Plaine, Benton county, and to the state of Iowa. We have been traveling throughout the state sharing to as many groups as possible, the amazing story behind Will Herring and his Swellest Little Hotel in Iowa (on the Lincoln Highway). Support has begun to grow, and plans are being made to save this most deserving property.

read more…

PI 2016 Mini-Grant Awardee Announcement

In 2014 Preservation Iowa in Coordination with the Annual Iowa Historic Country School Conference started the Mini Grant Initiative. This Grant funding was established through the attendance of the Annual Country School Conference. The purpose of this grant was to aid Preservation Efforts in the preservation of Historic one and two room school houses, grounds, or educational efforts within preserved Country Schools.

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Younkers: The Friendly Store

Preservation Iowa member, Vicki Ingham, has written new book: “Younkers-The Friendly Store.”  Ingham describes how three Jewish immigrants’ brothers opened a dry goods store Younker & Brothers in Keokuk in 1856. That store would become Iowa’s first block-long department store in Des Moines and the largest in Iowa. The 153-page history can be purchased for $21.99 or ordered in ebook or printed versions through

Passing of a Fellow Preservationist

Douglas William Jones

Douglas William Jones, archaeologist for the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI), died unexpectedly of natural causes on November 10th at his home in Mitchellville.  Doug was born September 15, 1966 in Iowa City to John Wesley (Jack) (now deceased) and Caroline Hartwig Jones.  Two years later, his sister Ellen completed the family.  When Doug was six, the family moved back to the Jones family farm near Olin in Jones County.

His father, a math and computer science teacher at Davenport West High School, set high academic standards that Doug exceeded by graduating with honors in 1985.  As a high school freshman, Anthropology became his teenage ambition after attending a Nobel conference entitled “Darwin’s Legacy” where he was influenced by three world renowned scientists Richard Leaky, Stephen J. Gould, and E.O. Wilson.

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Annual Country School Conference

The 2016 Iowa Country School Preservation conference was held in the scenic Scott Co Park of Eldridge, Iowa. The dates of the conference were October 14-15. This was effectively the 17th annual conference and has had a great track record of being held in very diverse and scenic areas around Iowa.

Preservation Iowa helps to sponsor this event each year which is organized by one of our very dedicated board members Bill Sherman. Each year this conference attracts many Country School enthusiasts and brings a wealth of country school knowledge to attendees. The October 14th day time conference held at Whispering Pines Shelter was filled with many interesting presenters from the Midwest and other more distant areas of the United States.

Preservation Iowa was able to recognize last year’s Mini-grant recipients which received Plaques in recognition for use of award monies distribute in January of 2016 and used during the fiscal year. Each project was a great example of preservation and are valuable treasures to the state of Iowa.

We encourage you to attend next year’s conference if you are interested in learning more about the rich heritage of Iowa’s education history. If you would like more information please contact and stay tuned to our 1st Quarter News Letter in 2017 for more information on the 2017 Country School Conference.

Preservation Iowa Board 2017 Planning Session

Preservation Iowa held its annual year in review board meeting on December 1st, 2016. Preservation Iowa Board and advisors convened in Des Moines, Iowa to discuss the upcoming year and events in 2017. We are excited about the many advancements that took place in 2016 and those which will take place in 2017. Preservation Iowa looking forward to increased momentum in 2017 and is grateful for the support of our many advisors in and the partnership we maintain with Iowa Main Street, IEDA, the Iowa SHPO, and other professional business concerned with economic advancement and preservation in the state of Iowa.

Iowa’s National Register Activity High in 2016

2016 was an active year for Iowa’s National Register of Historic Places program.  As of December, six new districts have been listed and 23 individual properties.  Highlights include a water tower in Manning designed by Iowa State College engineering professor Anson Marston in 1903.  The New Providence Building Association Stores in New Providence, home of what is believed to be Iowa’s oldest hardware store, was listed in March as were two farmsteads in Jones County.  The oldest property listed this year is the pre-statehood Beers and St. John Company Coach Inn, dating from 1842.

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