More than 16,000 Iowa farms went under during the well-documented midwestern farming crisis of the 1980s. The farming crisis had wide-ranging effects on rural communities in the state, as local businesses and schools were closing at alarming rates. In 1986, the Boston Globe sent a features writer to the small Taylor County town of Gravity to take an in-depth look at the effects of the farming crisis on a ‘typical’ rural Iowa community.
The population of Gravity had halved between the 1940s and 1980s, and in the article, local residents lamented at the resulting losses: since the town’s heyday, the barber shop, opera house, and hardware stores were gone. The newspaper was no more, and the local bank branch operated only six hours a week. The biggest loss for the community may have been the local school, which closed in 1982.
The three-story brick building was built as a high school in 1929. Classes were reduced when Gravity became part of the Bedford Community School District in the early 1960s, and the school was closed entirely following the 1981-1982 school year. Unlike many former school buildings across the state, the Gravity school has been well-maintained since its closure. Despite the loss of the school, Gravity is home to a post office, community center, American Legion hall, and a new bar and grill restaurant.