Between 1950 and 1960, the state of Iowa lost over 3,000 school districts as part of a widespread consolidation effort across the state. The Taylor County community of Sharpsburg was no exception, as on July 1, 1959, voters in the area voted to consolidate into the school district in Lenox, a larger community 10 miles to the south and west.
While students in grades 7 – 12 were bused to Lenox, the Sharpsburg building continued to operate as an Elementary School following the consolidation. In the early 1960s, the Lenox Community School District proposed a series of bonds to construct a new high school in the city of Lenox. Various versions of the proposal were voted down by district residents eight times before approval was granted to construct and equip a $350,000 high school building in 1966.
The opening of the new high school marked the end of the Sharpsburg school, as area residents could easily be accommodated in the Lenox facilities. Final classes were held in Sharpsburg in 1968, and the school was sold by auction to a local resident for $2,100 in November 1968. Following the sale, the building was the building was used to store small square bales of hay and straw. The property is owned by the same family and continues to be used for agricultural purposes as private property.
This clever town welcome sign sits on the south side of Main Street in the Taylor County community of Gravity, Iowa. Founded in 1881, Gravity is the only town in the United States with its name, which stems from a nearby landmark at the time, the “Old Gravity Post Office.” Gravity’s population peaked in 1940 at 514; the town is currently home to 218 residents.
Read an early account of Gravity’s history from the Taylor County Genealogical Society.
The Public Library in Bedford, Iowa, sits one block west of the previously featured Taylor County Courthouse. Bedford was one of 99 communities in the state to receive a grant for a public library from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The library was dedicated and opened in 1915 at a cost of $10,000. Its exterior remains much the same today as it was at time of construction, featuring stucco with a red brick trim and red clay roof. Visitors will find two fireplaces and dark pine woodwork inside the library, which is open daily except Sundays.
Representatives from community clubs and organizations came together on Monday, March 17, 1941, to formally establish the Public Library Association of Lenox, Iowa. During the meeting, officers were appointed to the library board, a constitution was written, and plans were solidified to open the library within two weeks.
The newfound library was located in two rented rooms within a downtown bank building. Volunteers installed shelves in the rooms and organized the initial collection of books, donated entirely by local community members. In addition to book donations, library officers also encouraged monetary contributions. The first donor to the library was from nearby Creston:
Mr. N. I. Menzer of Creston was in Lenox Tuesday and, after hearing a brief talk on the library, asked if he could contribute. His check for $5 is now in the hands of the treasurer. Mr. Menzer has the honor of being the first cash contributor.
from the March 20, 1941, edition of the Lenox Time Table newspaper
Other donations were received by community groups and individuals, and by the library’s opening, the association had collected an additional $40. Due to lack of funds, a librarian was not immediately hired; the library was run entirely by volunteers and open twice weekly.
The current (pictured) library location was established in 1975. For more details on the library’s collections and features, check out their well-maintained website or Facebook page.
The majestic Taylor County Courthouse sits one block north of Main Street in Bedford in Southwest Iowa. Local Bedford limestone lines this historic courthouse, which dates to 1892 and was constructed at a cost of $39,000. Its most remarkable feature is the towering white clock tower; according to the Bedford community website, locals refer to the courthouse as the “Majestic Lady with the White Crown.”