On July 23, 1978, members of the Methodist and Christian Church congregations of the unincorporated Jasper County town of Ira held a meeting “for purposes of taking formal action to allow the merger of these legal non-profit Iowa corporations into one corporation known as the United Church of Ira.” The newly-formed combined congregation acted quickly to secure the pictured facility.
The building that houses the United Church of Ira dates to 1938, when it was constructed by the Works Progress Administration for use as a school and community hall. The two-room school, which housed kindergarten through eighth grade students, operated until 1955, when students were absorbed by the nearby Mingo Consolidated School District.
The building served as a community center then as a Grange hall before being purchased by the church in 1978. Volunteers created a sanctuary and church classrooms on the main floor, while leaving the basement room intact for use as a community hall.
On November 5, 1892, the Colfax City Council voted to allow the west room of the second story of the new City Hall building to be used for a public library. On December 16 that year, a meeting was called and the public library association was officially organized. By July 21, 1893, the Library was formally dedicated, and in 1902, the library board began correspondence with Andrew Carnegie to receive money for a new library building. In 1904, a $6,500 grant for a new library was approved and the community began deliberation before work was started.
Lots were purchased for $2,300 on January 12, 1912, and the cornerstone was officially laid October 15, 1912. The new library was completed on March 24, 1913, and dedication ceremonies were held May 14, 1913. The historic building has been well-preserved, with only a handful of changes made since the library opened. In 1915, the library’s annual budget was $1,152.
The city of Newton, Iowa, will always be linked to the Maytag brand. The famous appliance manufacturer was founded in Newton in the late 1800s and operated for well over a century before closing its doors in October 2007. Before being purchased by Whirlpool Corporation, Maytag’s Newton headquarters and factory had over 3,000 employees, or the equivalent of one-fifth of Newton’s population.
While the city is still working to create jobs to offset the losses created by the appliance manufacturer, another local Maytag brand is running strong. Located just outside the city limits, it’s the Maytag Dairy Farms, which is known across America for its famous blue cheese. Their blue cheese process dates to 1941 and still involves cave aging and formation of each cheese wheel by hand.
While the cheese itself can be found at many supermarkets around the nation, the company headquarters is well worth a visit, especially if you’re in the Newton area. The exterior of the headquarters building is modern and nondescript, but the cheese-filled coolers inside the lobby easily offset any lack of atmosphere.
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