In 1998, the post office moved to a dedicated facility for the first time in its 125-year-old history. After sharing space with homes, general stores, a drug store, and a bank, services were relocated to a new modular building, one of 10 which opened that year for postal use. Constructed by a Kansas firm at a cost of $100,000, the new space offered handicapped accessibility, efficient heating and cooling, and layouts designed especially for sorting and distributing mail.
Residents in the Fayette County town of Arlington received a notice on Friday, April 22, 2011, noting the closure of their post office was imminent. A meeting was held the following Monday at the local Lutheran Church, and the office was shuttered the following Wednesday. The Des Moines Register writer Kyle Munson chronicled the closure which was classified by the postal service as an emergency suspension. The office was one of over 30 closed in Iowa in 2011.
On August 8, 2007, postal services were suspended in the Fayette County town of Westgate after lightning struck the adjacent building. The structure was deemed unsafe and prone to collapse, causing the post office to be endangered and closed. After the post office was closed, cluster boxes were installed in a nearby lot, and a formal meeting was held with community members the following spring.
In April 2010, when this photo was taken, a piece of paper with the message “Temporarily Closed” was posted inside the front door. However, attempts to regain an office for the community were unsuccessful; it was officially discontinued on October 25, 2009.
A library association was formed in the Fayette County town of Oelwein in 1909, with $1.00 memberships required to join. The fee was dropped in 1911, with a free public library group formed and ownership given to the city. The library’s first location was within the second floor of the town’s city hall, open six days a week, four hours each day. The first librarian was paid a salary of $30 per month.
The pictured, permanent library building was constructed in 1929 at a cost of $40,000, designed by Raymond F. Moore, a Cedar Rapids-based architect. The brick building was significantly remodeled in 1967, with the addition of a new balcony, office, circulation desk, carpet and book shelves. The facility housed the library until July 2006, when a new, $2.6-million library opened its doors.
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.