The Historic Pella Trust, established in 1994, is a non-profit preservation group who helps to preserve Pella’s architectural resources so that future generations will continue to be enriched by the historic legacy of Pella’s Dutch heritage and culture. We serve in a counseling and advisory capacity regarding historically correct architecture and disseminate information regarding restoration and reconstruction of facilities.

Our Mission Statement is to protect and promote buildings, landscapes, and sites important to the heritage of Pella, Iowa.

Our office is located in the oldest building in Pella, Iowa, The Thomas Tuttle Cabin was built in 1843. It is the homestead that included the center of town and was purchased by the Dutch leader, H.P. Scholte.  Tours can be arranged by email but limited do to Covid 19. Beside Tuttle Cabin you will find Tuttle Learning Walk that leads to Sunken Garden Park. 

The Trust interacts to rescue historically significant property in danger of demolition. Restoration of these properties and protection covenants are arranged by our organization.  We take an active approach towards historic preservation advocacy working with local, state and national government agencies to document and preserve.

Protect & Promote our Heritage

Historic Pella Trust celebrated their 25th Anniversary in October 2019

Contact Information

Historic Pella Trust, Inc.

Phone :641-780-9818

Email: office@historicpellatrust.org

Tuttle Log House address: 608 Lincoln Street

Mailing address: PO Box 1, Pella, Iowa 50219

Planning a visit? Please Email Historic Pella Trust  

Preserve Pella Newsletter Archives

Ribbon Cutting Celebration for the Collegiate Historic District being place on the National Register of Historic Places 2018

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In the News and Events

If you click on the on the page link above, we have also posted the annual meeting as 4 videos. This links you to Current Projects: Annual Meeting and Heritage Celebration.

On this page, we separated the long  video program into 4 shorter topic videos; the business meeting, the Tuttle Learning Walk; The Strawtown Cottage; The Rock House. 

Historic Pella Trust’s 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting is featured completely on the 52 Minute video below.

Thank you for watching our program and business review! 

Tuttle Learning Walk

Your financial Support is needed to finish the Tuttle Learning Walkway!

We are excited to introduce the Tuttle Learning Walkway in partnership with the City of Pella!

This educational walkway is located between Tuttle Cabin and Sunken Garden Park. It creates an entertaining way for our children, adults and visitors to learn about Pella’s history and heritage through signage and plantings.
The educational signs along the path will create a lasting tribute to the devoutness; courage and industriousness of our Dutch ancestors. 

  Historic Pella Trust has agreed to provide 100% of the cost of Tuttle Learning Walk through  fundraising. We need your help to finish paying for the six signs featured along this beautiful walk.

Tuttle Learning Walk Information Page

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2019 Heritage Impact Award

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The second Pella Christian High School is the subject of part eight of the Trust’s series on Pella school buildings that no longer exist. In 1940 Pella Christian’s first high school was conducted in a large home converted for use as a school. This building was rapidly outgrown and in 1948 land was purchased on Jefferson street north of Sunken Garden Park. Construction was begun later that year and in early 1949 school was moved to the new facility, although it was not dedicated until September.The original building was a one-story wood-frame, brick-clad building, 230 feet long and 60’ deep. At the rear northwest corner a gymnasium was located which brought the depth of the building to 110’ for that portion. The gym allowed the school to play basketball games on its own floor for the first time. The gym also doubled as a chapel and auditorium. In 1950 high school enrollment was 152.In 1959 a 14,000 square foot addition was made to the southeast corner of the building, and the gym was also enlarged. These additions provided space for a new library/study hall, an additional science room, new music room, an additional class room and teacher’s room. The addition to the gym included shower and locker rooms and folding bleachers. With this expansion the school was able to accommodate up to 350 students.On Wednesday afternoon, January 15, 1964, the school was almost totally destroyed by fire. Fortunately the fire didn’t break out until after school, but once it started the blaze spread so quickly that those still in the school, primarily teachers and the boys basketball team that was holding practice, were lucky to escape with their lives. The boys, clad only in gym clothes, stood in the January weather and watched their school burn. Only a portion of the south east addition was saved.Classes were resumed two weeks later. By shuffling some of the grade school classes to the Calvary Christian Reformed Church, enough space was freed up to allow the high school students to squeeze into the grade school. Rebuilding was begun as soon as plans and fundraising allowed, and by September a portion of the new section was far enough along to allow some classes to resume at the high school. The rebuilt school was formally dedicated March 25, 1965.Over the next thirty-three years five additions were made to the school. In 1997 a decision was made to begin planning a new facility. In 2004 the school purchased land on the southeast edge of Pella. Construction was begun in 2006 and on March 1, 2008 the new high school was dedicated. This brought an end to the second Pella Christian High School building, portions of which served for nearly 60 years. The building and land were purchased by the Pella Regional Health Center for future expansion. The building was later demolished after sitting idle for several years.Next week we will feature the second Webster School. The Historic Pella Trust encourages you, our valuable readers, to contribute your memories and/or photographs and to share our posts with those you think may be interested. Thank you for supporting Pella's history. -BB ... See MoreSee Less
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The first Pella Christian High School is the subject of part seven of the Trust’s series on Pella school buildings that no longer exist. You may recall from last week’s post that the Christian School had added a ninth grade class in 1937, and proceeded to add one more class each following year. By 1939 the existing Christian School building was proving too small, with twelfth grade still to be added in 1940. In July 1940 it was announced that the Pella Christian school board had purchased two acres of land, at 1349 Main Street, that included a building which would be used to house their high school department.This building seems to have started life in the early 1920s as the residence of a certain Dr. Huey. In 1929 Dr. L. M. Henry rented the property for use as his Chiropractic offices. Then in April 1940 Dr. Herman Vander Meulen converted the building into a maternity hospital. There were a few births at the hospital, but just three months later the building was sold to the Pella Christian High School Society, which only had two months to renovate the building into suitable high school facilities. On September 3, 1940, 41 students and four teachers answered the bell for the first day of school. The facility was described as “a spacious and suitable building” and in a sign of goodwill, Central College “donated a number of chairs” to the school and also offered a $50 tuition scholarship to a graduating senior.Extracurricular activities consisted of band, choir and basketball. Basketball games were played at either the Pella High School or Central College gym. Concerts were performed at the First Christian Reformed Church. Nine seniors comprised the first graduating class of 1941. High school enrollment grew quickly and by 1947 it had reached 103, an increase of over 250% in just seven years. The resulting overcrowding brought plans to erect a new building, but in 1947 the plans were put on hold for a year due to high building costs, and the existing building was renovated instead. Classrooms were enlarged and the custodian (a Mr. Booy) and his family, who had been living in the building, moved into a separate residence. This freed up two additional rooms on the main floor and two in the basement, allowing the school to utilize the entire building for school purposes. The expansion allowed chemistry to be added as a subject.In March 1948, 350 people attended a meeting at First Christian Reformed Church where it was decided to erect a new, modern high school building. Plans called "for the erection of a commodius one-story building with recreation hall on the recently purchased site a little north of Tulip Park (i.e. Sunken Garden Park).” Construction was expected to begin in a matter of weeks. By December 1948 the new high school facility was far enough along that the basketball games were played in the new gymnasium. In early 1949 classes were moved into the new facility for the final semester of the school year.Once vacated, the old school building was converted back into a residence where the high school principal and his family lived. The building was eventually sold and converted into apartments. One late February evening in 1974 the building and its seven apartments burnt to the ground. This building spent only eight years as a school, but they were nevertheless important and formative ones for the fledgling Pella Christian High School.Next week we look at the second Pella Christian High School. The Historic Pella Trust encourages you to share your memories and/or photographs of the school with us.Thanks for following the Trust and don't forget to visit our website at www.historicpellatrust.org. ... See MoreSee Less
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2 weeks ago

Historic Pella Trust
The first Pella Christian School is the subject of part six of the Trust’s series on Pella school buildings that no longer exist. Pella’s first Christian School building opened at the beginning of January 1913. The building was originally a one-story wood-frame building located at the northeast corner of Union and West Second streets, the building faced the south. The location was just one block south of the First Christian Reformed Church.The school originally served grades one through six - seventh and eighth grades were soon added. Twenty six students attended that first term in the spring of 1913, under the direction of J. W. Cleveringa, who had been hired from Sioux County, Iowa. By the fall of 1913 enrollment had grown sufficiently that Gertrude Bennink was hired to assist Prof. Cleveringa. The first few years the school was taught largely in Dutch, but by 1919, following World War I, the school advertised that it was taught entirely in English.As the building was under construction in 1912 the citizens of Pella were voting on wether to purchase a lot on which to build the city's first public high school building. The initial vote failed and part of the theory on that failure was fear of a situation similar to that in Orange City where a public school building stood empty due to their parochial school. However, neither school system had any reason to worry about enrollment - both schools continued to increase rapidly.Sometime in the 1920s a second story was added to the Christian School building. For its first 25 years the school offered education only through the eighth grade, but in 1937 the school announced that it was adding two grades: a primary (kindergarten) grade for any pupil who would be five years of age by January 1; and a ninth grade, which would give “a complete Junior high school.” The school was working toward adding the remaining high school grades, and over the next three years added one more grade per year as students advanced. In 1940 the school system acquired a building on north Main street that opened as the first Christian High School, and space was freed up at the grade school for the time being.In late 1951 the Pella Christian Grade School Society announced that it had received authorization to build a new school building, this one to be located on the east side of town. The new building building opened in 1953 and soon afterward the old Christian Grade School building was auctioned off. The building and lot sold for a combined $7,785. In 1955 the building was dismantled and the materials sold: 3,000 feet of 4 inch flooring; 1,500 feet of 4 inch siding; 30 doors and 30 windows, three good stools and one lavatory. In 1958 a home was built in the center of the lot, and in 1961 another home was built where the front half of the school and its playground once stood.This building served only 40 years as a school, and was torn down after only 43 years - relatively few in comparison to most of Pella’s other buildings. However, being replaced had more to do with meeting rapidly expanding enrollment demands and modernized facilities, and its location made the property more desirable for residences than institutional needs.Next week our series continues, featuring the Pella Christian High school(s). -BB ... See MoreSee Less
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3 weeks ago

Historic Pella Trust
The first Lincoln School is the subject of part five of the Trust's series on Pella school buildings that no longer exist.By 1900, Park School, the subject of our first installment, was nearing 50 years of age - outdated and vastly overcrowded. Webster School, the subject of our second installment, was 25 years old and so overcrowded that a former residence/church next door had been pressed into service for the overflow of students. In 1903 architect George Pass of Mankato, Minn. was hired to design a new building to replace Park school.The building’s location was an interesting choice: It was situated midway between Main Street and Broadway at the north end of Pella founder H. P. Scholte’s two-block long garden/woods. Directly to the northeast stood the Pella Steam Laundry, the Buwalda Brothers’ Electric Light Works (Pella’s first power plant) and E. I. Roorda’s Pella Feed & Barley Mill. All three businesses were located on Main Street where the current Lincoln School and playground are now.The construction of Lincoln school was begun in early 1904 and after a slight delay, its first day of school was January 2, 1905. With the opening of Lincoln came the closing and sale of Park School. Also breathing a sigh of relief was entrepreneur Peter Jensen, who had recently completed construction on his new saloon on the south side of the downtown square. The opening of the business was dependent on the closing of Park School - due to the saloon's proximity to the old school - and when Lincoln School’s opening was delayed a few months Jensen had to wait, too.Lincoln School was a large two story brick building equipped with electric light from the next-door power plant. However, the school building was built too early to have indoor plumbing and had to rely on a well and outhouse facilities during its first decade of operation.Lincoln had the distinction of housing Pella's first kindergarten class; Webster added Kindergarten later that year. In 1906, its first full year of operation, Lincoln had an enrollment of 301 students. While Lincoln and Webster shared kindergarten through 6th grade classes, 7th and 8th grades were held exclusively at Lincoln and all high school classes remained at Webster. Over the next decade grades 6-8 shifted back and forth between the two schools, sometimes held exclusively at one or the other, and sometimes shared, as space permitted.At the time of Lincoln’s opening, any child between the ages of seven and fourteen (essentially grades one to eight) was required to attend a minimum of sixteen consecutive weeks of school each year. By 1913 the minimum had been raised to 24 consecutive weeks for those aged seven to sixteen.In case you were wondering which came first, the school or the street, Lincoln street was officially named in 1918, 13 years after the Lincoln School opened. Until that time, the street that was to become known as Lincoln was called North Street, and it represented the original northern city limits of Pella. When the addition of North Pella was platted, its southern boundary street was known as Addition Street, which was the same street as North Street, so it depended on which side of the street you were standing as to which name you called it. Confusing? Yes. Renaming it to Lincoln Street solved that problem. By the 1920s the nearby steam laundry and electric power plant were gone, but in 1940 an auto repair garage and gas station was erected on the site of the former steam laundry. This building later housed the first Kingma Garage which was a dealership for Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler automobiles. In 1955 Gerrit Kingma, the owner of Kingma Garage, also began maintaining the school district’s six school buses. When Kingma relocated his business in 1960, the school system purchased the garage building and turned it into the district's first bus barn.Also in 1960, a large, detached one-story addition was built to the west of Lincoln School due to continued enrollment expansion. The two buildings were connected by a covered walkway.1992 was to be the last year that classes were held in the original Lincoln School building. Jefferson Elementary school had opened in the fall of 1992 and Old Lincoln was no longer needed. The fate of the building was debated for months. The Historic Pella Trust was organized with the purpose of trying to save and repurpose Old Lincoln; but it was not to be. Ultimately, the school board made the decision to demolish the still-sturdy building. It was dismantled in 1995. At least the 1960 addition continued the Lincoln School name. That addition will be the subject of a later post.Old Lincoln (1905-1992) has the distinction of being the longest serving public school building in Pella. However, Central College’s Jordan Hall, which still stands and was built the same year as Lincoln School, has the record for longest service of any educational building in Pella.Watch for next week’s post when the Pella Christian School system makes its first appearance in this series. -BB ... See MoreSee Less
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4 weeks ago

Historic Pella Trust
Central College’s Y.M. & Y.W.C.A. building, commonly referred to as the Auditorium, is the topic of this week’s fourth installment of Pella school buildings that are no longer in existence. Technically, a portion of this building still exists; however its story is far too intriguing to be overlooked.Two weeks ago we covered Old Central, which was the first and only building on Central’s campus for thirty years. In 1884 the women’s boarding hall, later named Cotton Hall, was converted from a local residence, and in late 1890 the college’s Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) organizations began talking about building a combination gymnasium and chapel/auditorium. It was felt that having this facility would aid in recruiting students to their organizations and ultimately in their conversion to Christianity.By early 1891 some architectural sketches were complete. However, it was not until early 1893 that the organization started to proceed with the building. At a February 17, 1893 YMCA business meeting, "it was decided to erect a building costing about $5,000…. it is thought that it will be 40' x 60' and two stories high, giving a large auditorium on the second floor which may be used for chapel purposes…. It will be by far the largest hall in town, which fact, alone, ought to induce the people of Pella to contribute liberally for the erection of the building. Nothing is needed more in Pella than an auditorium…. The building will be begun as soon as $4,000 is raised. The foundation is to be in by June, and the building completed by cold weather.”Fundraising was begun in earnest, but the completion date proved to be wildly optimistic as securing the necessary funds proved extremely elusive. By October 1893 excavation for the foundation was nearly complete and rock was being hauled to the site. In May 1894 the foundation was finished and the cornerstone laid on Commencement Day. In March of 1895 it was announced that the brick for the building was on site and in August 1896 came the news of the laying of the first brick. In November 1896 the walls of the building stretched “above the floor of the auditorium” (the second story). The roof was put on in 1897. In May 1899 the college track team was able to set up training quarters in the basement of the unfinished building, and in July it was announced that work on the building had resumed after a long pause and that Pella’s merchants held a fundraiser for the building. In December 1900 the Pella Advertiser newspaper noted: “The New Building is slowly but surely nearing completion. The main stairway is now being put in.” In January 1901 The Central Ray newspaper reported: “The new chairs are being put in the Auditorium.” At last, after eight years, the building was complete at an estimated cost of over $12,000.The building’s basement housed a gymnasium approximately 40’ x 40’ and 20’ high with an elevated running track. There were two sets of locker rooms, each with their own showers, although Pella had no sewer system yet so outhouse facilities were still required. The building had steam heat and its own water system supplied from a nearby water tower. On the first floor, above the locker rooms was the library. Most of the second floor was devoted to the auditorium, which could seat up to 500 people if the “gallery” was used. The gallery could double as two classrooms. The third floor housed storage for athletic gear, and music practice rooms, some with pianos.Although the building took many years to go up, it only a few hours to go down. After less than sixteen years, at 8:00 on Wednesday morning, February 28, 1917, the building was largely destroyed by fire. Fortunately the fire started on the upper floors so that there was time to save the contents of the library. One of two grand pianos from the chapel was also saved.It was determined that the building was not a complete loss as the first floor could be salvaged. A new roof was installed over the first floor and the interior rebuilt. The original distinctive arched doorways and windows were retained. In May 1918 The building reopened as the college library. By 1923 it was named the Ludwig Library.In 1956 the library had a large addition placed on the east side and the exterior of the building was changed from stucco to brick to match the addition. At that time the front entrance was walled off and the arched windows replaced. Since that time the building has been remodeled inside, but the exterior has largely remained unchanged.Today the building is known as the Lubbers Center for the Visual Arts. Without knowing the history behind the structure it would be hard to tell that the walls and foundation of the oldest remaining building on Central’s campus lie beneath. If one searches the basement carefully portions of the original limestone foundation from 1894 can still be found. -BB ... See MoreSee Less
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1 month ago

Historic Pella Trust
This is the third in our series of Pella school buildings that are no longer with us. Today we feature the first Webster School.The original Webster School was situated on 1/4 of a block located at the northeast corner of Broadway and Peace streets, directly west of where the second Webster school stood and diagonally across from the Central College campus. The building was an imposing brick structure, two stories tall plus the basement. It faced Peace Street and measured 78 feet wide by 63 feet deep. On June 27, 1876 five members of the Pella school board met at the site and, after some debate on the exact location, staked out the foundation forty feet back from the street. The next day ground was broken by a Mr. Hardy who won the contract to excavate the basement for $85. John Steinwyk was hired to hand dig a 25-foot-deep well at a cost of $1.50/foot. Total cost of the building was contracted to be $14,090.Construction was not without its risks and on August 29 a brick mason from Keokuk died in a fall from the second story of the building. However the schoolhouse was completed in time for the winter term which began first thing in 1877. The building was described as having “ample, airy rooms, elegantly furnished and conveniently arranged”. Webster School was the second purpose-built school building erected in Pella, joining the 22-year-old Park School. With the construction of Webster, the Pella school system was able to offer high school classes for the first time. For the next forty years all high school classes were held on the second floor of the schoolhouse. Unique to this building was the living quarters for the janitor and his family that were included in the basement. This would have been handy, especially in terms of keeping the heating system going during winter. However, this arrangement did not last long as living conditions in the basement, with its limestone block walls, “were soon found to be too damp and altogether too unsanitary for living purposes”.By the 1890s overcrowding was a problem and the school acquired a building next-door to the east which had variously served as both a residence and a church. This building was called Howell School after its previous residents and it housed Webster’s first and second-grade students for a time.1904/1905 saw a large change in education in Pella: Park School, then fifty years old, was closed and sold, as was Howell School, and the first Lincoln School opened to replace these two “Temples of Learning". For the first time kindergarten classes were added to the Pella school system. Webster school was remodeled for that purpose. Dirt was excavated from around the foundation so that new, larger basement windows could be installed to improve light and ventilation and the five lower rooms were made into one to house kindergarten classes. In addition the entire east half of the second floor was expanded into one large room to serve as a combination study hall/assembly room/chapel.In 1916 Pella’s first purpose-built high school opened and for the next 40 years Webster served students from kindergarten through the eighth grade. In 1951 construction on the new Webster School had begun and old Webster’s days were numbered. At 2:30 on Friday afternoon, April 4th, 1952, all of old Webster's students marched the few feet to the new Webster School and old Webster closed after 75 years of use. It was soon voted to tear the old building down and sell the building materials. The old school bell found a new home at Second Reformed Church. With that, old Webster School was consigned to history. So far it’s 75 years marked the longest any building has served as a school in Pella’s history. -BB ... See MoreSee Less
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1 month ago

Historic Pella Trust
Central College’s first purpose-built building is the subject of this week's series covering lost Pella school buildings. This series will feature lost buildings from the Pella, Pella Christian and Central College school systems.Pella’s founder, Henry Scholte, and several other influential local people provided land, cash and other inducements that ultimately convinced the Iowa Baptists to locate their proposed college in Pella. Scholte was elected president of the school's first Board of Trustees. Another early contributor, Pella’s Dudok Bousquet, was vice-president. The Central University of Iowa was incorporated in 1853 when Pella was not quite six years old. The college first opened its doors in the fall of 1854, initially not as a university, but as a preparatory academy. The Central Academy functioned as a high school, preparing students for entrance to its upcoming collegiate department. At that time Pella provided no education past the eighth grade and so the Academy was essential to academically prepare students for college. The Central Academy continued to operate in conjunction with the college until 1928.The academy's original location was in rented quarters at 1109 Washington Street, since construction on their own building had barely begun at that time. The Reverend Emanuel Scarff from Dayton, Ohio, was hired to be the academy’s principal. In 1881 Scarff wrote a detailed reminiscence of his time with Central. It is a touching read, telling of the earliest days of Pella and Central College, filled with equal parts of humor, struggle, despair and hope.Scarff and his wife took the steamboat to Muscatine, Iowa and then traveled to Pella by stage coach on a three-day, two-night journey with stays at Iowa City and Oskaloosa. Upon arriving in Pella, Scarff wrote: “The first questions I asked the [college board] secretary were 'What are the prospects of the opening school? Has a suitable building been secured? Has the board secured furniture for the school rooms? etc. etc.' To all these questions the answer was either doubtful or a flat negative. The school had been widely advertised and it was hoped that there would be a respectable number of students from abroad and the opening of the school would be fair, etc."But as for a room none had been secured and it was not known that a suitable room could at all be secured in town. However on the 19th of Sept,—four days after my arrival and two days after the date of the published opening of the school we secured a new building near the West end of Washington Street…. These rooms were newly plastered and we felt that we were in luck in securing so good quarters for the infant school about to come forth. But as to the furniture we were not in so happy a case."The furniture was yet growing in the native forests on the Des Moines bottoms. The board had no funds on hand to send and get seats, desks etc—and there was no dry lumber to be had to make them. But even this was not, in those primitive days, a matter of stumbling. In four days we had the logs at the mill and in lumber; and in six days more we had first clap seats and desks from the green native lumber. We thus had the best room and it was the best furnished for school and church purposes (it was used for both) that there was in town."With these preliminaries all thus satisfactorily arranged the school was formally opened on the eighth day of October 1854. There were associated with me in school during the first year Caleb Caldwell A. B. and Miss Julia Tollman a graduate of the Monticello Female School. The school opened with 32 but this number was almost daily increased until at the close of the first term, we had enrolled about 70 students.”From this inauspicious start the school grew in fits and starts. The college’s own building had been under construction since 1854 and finally by the fall of 1856 the building was enclosed and one large room on the third floor was sufficiently finished so that classes were moved there. The structure measured 50 feet deep by 70 feet wide with a central north/south hallway and stairs. This brick building was three stories high, capped with a large cupola giving a total height of nearly 60 feet, and that was topped off with a 20 foot tall flagpole. It was located in the middle of two blocks that now comprise the center of Central College’s campus. At that time the building was situated on the southwest edge of town and was largely off to itself. The grounds were not fenced or landscaped (Scarff described it as “all alone on the vast broad prairie”) and it was not unheard of for sheep or calves to wander into the building when the doors were open. In 1858 the collegiate courses were begun and in 1861 the first graduates from Central were celebrated. By 1866, ten years after its initial occupation, the interior of the building was still only two-thirds finished. That year Scarff and another professor took it on themselves to fund and personally finish the second floor. Later that year 150 soft maples trees were donated by a local farmer and were planted around the building and grounds, in one afternoon, by the students and the school's two male faculty members. It took over a decade, but the building and school were rounding into shape.For its first thirty years Central University of Iowa consisted of only one building. Students either lived at home or boarded with local families. In 1884 an existing residence was purchased by the college to be used as a boarding hall. Originally called the “Young Ladies Home”, it was later renamed Cotton Hall and brought the number of the college’s buildings to two.In 1914 the cupola was struck by lightning, setting it on fire. A large bell which had hung in the cupola since the earliest days of the building was fractured by the lightning. Although the cupola was a complete loss the rest of the building was rescued from the fire. Unfortunately, eight years later the building was not so lucky. On June 13, 1922, Pella was preparing to celebrate its 75th birthday. At midnight a fire broke out in the first floor of the building; the cause was never determined. The stairway acted as a chimney and quickly carried the flames to the upper floors and roof. There was little the fire department could do once they arrived at the conflagration. The building’s east wall was the first to fall, followed by the south, then the west and north. By morning only the corners of the building stood. One piano and some sheet music were all that was rescued from the building.This brought a rapid conclusion to Central College’s first building. Today all that remains of the building is a modest tribute consisting of a few limestone blocks from its foundation and the broken bell destroyed in the 1914 fire. These are located in the center of campus, not far from where the original building once stood. -BB ... See MoreSee Less
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2 months ago

Historic Pella Trust
Today we begin a weekly series covering former Pella school buildings that no longer exist. This series will cover buildings built expressly for the education of students in the Pella public, Pella Christian and Central College school systems.We start with Park school which was constructed in 1855 on a single 100’ x 200’ lot located directly west of today’s Post Office (see map). This was the first building in Pella to be erected solely for use as a school. Since early 1848 (six months after Pella's founding) school had been taught in a multipurpose one-story 25’ x 50’ wooden building located diagonally across Franklin street at the back end of the lot where Pella Books (824 Franklin) is now located. This original building combined to serve as Pella’s first church/school/meeting house.Park school was a two-story brick building, originally 30 feet wide and 45’ feet deep but later doubled in size to 90 feet in depth. The playground in the back was covered in cinders, a byproduct of the large pot-bellied stoves that were located in each classroom. Also out back was a well with a wooden pump to supply drinking water, along with outhouses in the extreme southwest corner of the lot.For twenty years this building served as Pella’s only school building, holding classes for first through eighth grade. Public high school was not an option until 1875 when the first Webster school was constructed. At that time Park school was nicknamed “Old Brick”, while Webster became “New Brick”.Students recalled the primitive heating provided by the coal-burning stoves in the center of each classroom. In winter students had to rotate seating since the ones next to the stove were sweltering while students further away were nearly freezing, while teachers wore heavy coats all day to stay warm.One pupil recalled that when students hauled a bucket of drinking water into the school they would sometimes spill on the steps. In winter this water would quickly freeze and the first student to descend the steps would slip down the steps. Cinders would then be scattered on the steps to provide traction, but the cinders were soon tracked throughout the entire school. Smoke and dust from the coal stoves also coated everything and students went home covered in black soot. Daily sweeping and cleaning of the building was a must.By 1899 the Pella Saturday Advertiser newspaper noted: “The Park building is a disgrace to our city school system. It cannot be heated properly on cold days. It is unsightly inside and out. The city school rooms are all crowded and a new building is one of the immediate necessities of our public schools.” By 1903 plans had been made to build a new school. This was to be the first Lincoln School. With the opening of Lincoln school on January 2, 1905, Park school ceased operation, thus ending fifty years of education.The former Park school building was sold for $2,400. The property was enclosed with a large wood and steel fence and served as a livery and feed barn for the next 25+ years. In 1935 the vacant building was dismantled to make way for the new post office building.Next week we look at Central College’s first building. -BB ... See MoreSee Less
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