The first post office in the Monona County seat of Onawa was established in 1855 and consisted of a few boxes in the corner of the Fairchild General Store. After locations in a number of local storefronts, bids were opened for a standalone post office building in May 1936. The contract was awarded to the H.W. Underhill Construction Company of Wichita, Kansas, on August 20, 1936. Work was completed at a cost of $49,720 in April 1937.
The WPA-era building’s lobby features an oil-on-canvas mural named Soil Erosion and Control. The mural, painted by Lee Allen, was carried out under the program of the “Section of Fine Arts, Federal Works Agency, Public Building Administrations,” which was established to decorate Federal buildings with murals and sculpture. Approximately 1% of the building cost was dedicated for this decoration.
The Wayne Baptist Church in the Mitchell County town of McIntire was organized in 1865, with first services held in various homes and then the local schoolhouse. The first permanent church building was erected in 1884 on the north edge of town. The building was moved to a more central location within the community and served the congregation until a fire destroyed the church in 1962. Replacement building plans were created, and the current church was constructed shortly after.
In late February 2011, Iowa Backroads published two weekend updates related to the closure and potential closure of up to 18 post offices across the state of Iowa. Since then, post office closings have been in the news on a local and national level, and the number potentially slated for closure in Iowa exceeds 270. View the latest Iowa post office closings list.
While a U.S. Postal Service memo suggests closings may be slowing for the holiday season, plans to close Iowa offices are still moving forward. A recap of related local news follows:
- Brunsville: One of three Plymouth County post offices which may be closing. Le Mars Sentinel
- Coulter: A decision to close the Frankin County post office was made. Details, including installation of cluster boxes and a closure date, have not been finalized. Hampton Chronicle
- Crystal Lake: A meeting about post office closure was held November 28. Forest City Summit
- Dedham: Postal officials are meeting with the community on December 14 regarding post office closure. The town’s put together a special web page for residents hoping to save their post office.
- Dolliver: Many of Dolliver’s 38 residents showed up for the meeting to discuss the potential closure of their post office on November 14. Estherville Daily News
- Goodell: Residents adjust after their post office closed in September. Mason City Globe Gazette
- Homestead: The post office, in operation since 1852 and housed in the same building since 1913, closed due to lease issues on Monday, November 28. Iowa City Press-Citizen
- Joice: A meeting was held December 1 regarding potential post office closure. KIMT
- Killduff: The unincorporated Jasper County town will lose its post office January 5. USPS
- McCausland: Residents are waiting for an update on the status of their post office, which is threatened for closure for the third time in six years. North Scott Press
- New Liberty: Residents fear post office closure is a foregone conclusion. North Scott Press
- Pisgah: The Missouri Valley Times News reports the post office in Pisgah may close by spring.
- Onslow: Congressman Bruce Braley met with residents in my favorite Jones County town, offering support for small-town post offices. Monticello Express
- Oyens: One of three Plymouth County post offices which may be closing. Le Mars Sentinel
- Westfield: One of three Plymouth County post offices which may be closing. Le Mars Sentinel
- Woden: Operations at this Hancock County post office will cease January 13. KIMT
On February 15, 1939, members of the Page County community of Essex met in the city hall with the goal of establishing a city library. A library board was created, and in their next meeting determined to make a house-to-house canvass of the town seeking donations and books. Their efforts were quickly rewarded, and a library opened within the city hall building in April 1939. By 1956, the library moved from its city hall space to a portion of a local bank building. The most recent move was a decade ago, when the library moved to a new 5,000-square-foot facility in downtown Essex. The design features ample natural lighting, exposed wood trusses, and the ability to expand by up to 30% within the new building.
Further Reading: Read more about the Lied Foundation, which provided significant funding for the library project, in this article from the Lawrence (Kansas) World-Journal.
Iowa Backroads has featured a number of photos from towns being visited along the 2011 RAGBRAI route. They’re chronicled below:
Sunday, July 24
Monday, July 25