Category Archives: Museums

Carnegie Cultural Center (New Hampton, Iowa)

Carnegie Cultural Center (New Hampton, Iowa)

In 1994, the a new public library debuted in the Chickasaw County seat of New Hampton. The single-story building offered more space, the ability to accommodate computers, and was handicap accessible. The new facility left the future of the community’s 90-year-old Carnegie library in question. Juanita Andersen, Volunteer Administrator for the Carnegie Cultural Center, writes about the process to transform the space into a Carnegie Cultural Center:

The City had no plans for our Carnegie building. A group of local people, however, were concerned about the possiblity that the building would be torn down or sold to a private individual. They saw the facility as a “community heirloom” that should be preserved in the spirit of Andrew Carnegie’s original intent – to serve the interests of the public. The building also links our small community to the other libraries across Iowa and the United Staes that are part of the Carnegie libraries phenomenon of the early 20th century.

To make a long story short, the group proposed using the facility as a Cultural Center to preserve, promote and honor the history and cultural legacy of the Chickasaw County area. A private, non-profit (501c3) agency known as the “Carnegie Cultural Center” was established. We continue to exist in a public/private partnership with the City of New Hampton. The City still owns the building and provides enough funds to pay for the utilities (when the weather is co-operative!) and it is up to the Cultural Center organization to do the rest.

Our grand opening occured in June, 1995. Since we are funded by donations and are powered by volunteers, we do not move at lightning speed. We were open for five years before the lower level was rehabbed and ready for use. Our permanent exhibits, which we market for tourism, are comprised for the most part of models and miniatures that in some way speak about life as it was and is in this area. Our temporary exhibits are targeted at the local community and have featured a very wide diversity of topics. We are also growing an archives of information, photos and specific artifacts that are available for historical or genealogical research.

Many, many people have given their hearts and energies to make the Carnegie Cultural Center a reality. In 1999, an endowment fund was established to help insure the Cultural Center’s future. Obviously we are still “growing” the fund, but, future expenditures from the interest generated by the fund may only be used to hire staff or help fund capital expansion.

The Carnegie Cultural Center is open this summer Wednesday through Sunday. For full hour details, or contact information to schedule an appointment, visit the center’s website.

Adams County House of History (Corning, Iowa)

Adams County House of History (Corning, Iowa)

The Adams County House of History in Corning served as the jail and sheriff’s office from 1877 until 1955. The building was turned into a museum in 1969, after being purchased by funds raised via an effort spearheaded by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Sickler. The second floor houses an archives gallery, the first floor contains a number of museum exhibits, while the basement is home to the original dining room and kitchen used by the sheriff and his family in addition to jail cells and barred windows. The 135-year-old building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

Public Library and City Museum (Fort Atkinson, Iowa)

The first library in the Winneshiek County town of Fort Atkinson was established in 1964 in a room on the first floor of the former public school building. It later moved to the building’s lower level and then to a portion of the fire department. In 1995, Fort Atkinson Public Library returned to the public school building, which had been fully refurbished. It shares space with the city museum.

Historical Museum (Wyoming, Iowa)

The brick Hotel Williams was constructed on Main Street in the Jones County town of Wyoming in 1878. After nearly a half-century of operation, it discontinued operation as a hotel in 1932. The historic building has been repurposed as a local historical museum featuring a wide variety of displays. The collection includes items from early Iowa drug stores, old-fashioned showing machines, farm kitchen items, and a replica dental office and barber shop. It’s open Thursdays through Saturdays, May through September, or by appointment at (563) 488-3975.

Carnegie Library Building (Eagle Grove, Iowa)

Carnegie Library Building (Eagle Grove, Iowa)

The first ‘free’ public library in Eagle Grove opened in 1902, when a growing book location was created in the reception room of the local Masonic temple. Shortly after, the community was offered a $10,000 grant to build a public library building in Eagle Grove provided the city came up with a suitable location and a small tax to cover upkeep costs. The community spent $2,000 on the corner lot, construction began, and the new facility was formally dedicated in September 1903. It was used as a library until a new, single-story location was built in 1976.

The historic Carnegie building is now home to the Eagle Grove Historical Society and Museum.  A fundraising campaign is underway to provide much-needed restoration to the century-old building.