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.

Protect & Promote our Heritage

Our office is located in the oldest building in Pella, Iowa, The Thomas Tuttle Cabin Build in 1843.  We do provide tours of this historic landmark.

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.

Members receive our newsletter “Preserve Pella”.  Our annual meeting is in November, by tradition we honor several Pella homeowners with a  Historic Landmark plaque and award during this meeting.

Historic Pella Trust celebrates their 25th Anniversary October 2019

Contact Information

Historic Pella Trust, Inc.

Phone :641-780-9818


Tuttle Log House address: 608 Lincoln Street

Mailing address: PO Box 1, Pella, Iowa 50219

Planning a visit? Please Email Historic Pella Trust  

New: Donate Online!

In the News and Events

Tuttle Learning Walk

Phase one of the Tuttle Learning Walk is in progress! The walk has been divided into 3 phases; construction, signage, and landscaping.

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!

Historic Pella Trust has partnered with the City of Pella to build an educational walkway between Tuttle Cabin and Sunken Garden Park. This project  creates an entertaining way for our children, adults and visitors to learn about Pella’s history and heritage through signage and plantings. It will provide a lasting tribute to the devoutness; courage and industriousness of our Dutch ancestors. We anticipate that it will become a high-interest tourist attraction! 

Visitors will learn about the 1843 homestead of Thomas and Nancy Tuttle and the role Rev. Moses J. Post had in helping the Dutch to acquire local the homesteads in 1847. They will gain insight on what motivated the Dutch to leave the Netherlands under the leadership of H. P. Scholte and why that still has an impact on our present-day culture.   As the walkway nears Sunken Garden Park, the signage will share about the cooling pond for Pella’s first electric plant and  the location for the first tulip festival. The signs will include QR codes to scan for more history and photos. The City of Pella parks department will maintain the walk that will feature a variety of heritage perennials wildflowers, native grasses and bushes along with several limestone outcroppings representing the literal foundations of our town.

  Historic Pella Trust has agreed to provide 100% of the cost of Tuttle Learning Walk through local fundraising. We are close to our last quarter of the goal of raising $195,000. We need your help to achieve this vision.

Historic Pella Trust has committed to raise 100% of the funds needed for the project so that no tax dollars will be involved.

Historic Pella Trust receives $15,000 Grant from Pella Corp. Rolscreen Foundation to help fund Tuttle Learning Walk

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Please join our mailing list to receive updates and news reports from Historic Pella Trust. Our newsletter, Preserve Pella is an annual publication that is distributed to our members.

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Pictured below is one of Pella's landmark buildings. It was constructed in 1882 to house Pella's first fire department, jail and city hall. This building was erected in response to the third major downtown fire within a decade. On the night of April 13, 1882 a fire destroyed six buildings on the east side of the square: every business north of the current Marion County Bank complex to the alley was lost.

In response Pella organized its first fire department. They purchased fire fighting equipment and built this building to house the apparatus. The building also included Pella's first jail cells (built with thick limestone walls) in the back and a city hall upstairs. The city hall served to house an office for the mayor as well as a large room which doubled as city council meeting space and a court room.

The building was made of "fire-proof" materials including brick and limestone. The location was chosen due to its proximity to downtown but also because there was adequate space between it other surrounding buildings to further help fireproof the building and its equipment. At this time the fire-fighting equipment was manually-moved and hand operated.

Also noteworthy in the photo is the dirt Main Street; a portion of Pella's boardwalk system (in the pre-concrete days); a gaslight at the extreme lower left; and barely visible is an early electric pole.

Pella is fortunate that this historic link to the past remains as a monument to our city's early steps toward providing necessary services in protecting its citizens.

This photo appeared in an 1895 Pella Saturday Advertiser publication. -BB
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This brick home is a prime example of early-Pella architecture. This undated photo (likely from the 1930-1940 era) depicts the Peter and Jennie Vander Sluis home which was located at 300 Independence Street. Peter and Jennie were brother and sister whose parents, John and Jennie (Molendyk) Vander Sluis both died at an early age. Peter was employed at the Buerkens Wagon manufacturing company.

This home, which was described as being one of the first brick homes in Pella, was said to have been built in the 1850s by Case Van Essel. This house and associated farm was once located on more than forty acres and was situated exactly on Pella's eastern city limit. Today the city limits have moved more than a mile-and-a-half to the east.

To the extreme left of the house can be seen homes on East 3rd Street. This home, which faced the south, was likely demolished in the late 1950s. Today a new(er) home, constructed in 1967, is located on this site.

A sad story is associated with this area of Pella. In January 1936, an elderly man, who lived alone on nearby East 3rd street, was found huddled around a stove with his feet and legs badly frozen. In spite of sitting in front of the wood-burning stove, and "firing the stove day and night", due to the extreme cold and the condition of the old building it was impossible for him to stay warm. When found he was taken to the Vander Sluis home "where he will be cared for until it is safe to live in his house".

In 1937 Peter sold off 37 acres of the farm, including the farm buildings to Marion Van Houweling. The house, however, was retained for use by Peter and his sister Jennie until after their deaths in the late 1950s.-BB
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Your financial contributions to Historic Pella Trust will help us in our mission to protect and promote buildings, landscapes, and sites important to the heritage of Pella, Iowa. Historic Pella Trust is a non profit totally separate from Pella Historical and Museums. Our goal is to keep historic buildings and landmarks from being torn down though conservation easements and zoning. Both organizations want to protect our heritage for future generations to enjoy in Pella but in different ways; we are two separate organizations. I would be glad to answer any questions you may have. We depend on the membership and contributions of our followers to protect Pella's historic homes and buildings. Thank you.
This newspaper clipping is looking back at four featured homes in the Pella Chronicle published on January 1902, how many of them are still here today?
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Peoples State Savings Bank; Pella, Iowa. 1901, Herman Rietveld Treasurer, Pella was reported to be one of the 5th wealthiest cities with the population of 3000 in the United States! Local banks protected the city from fluctuations of the money markets of the East. Citizens were encouraged to borrow locally to invest in the fast growing manufacturing and farming economy. ... See MoreSee Less

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1901 Chronicle advertisement for Johnson and Ver Dught beverage and cigar wholesalers. This saloon was located on Franklin Street, south of Central Park. ... See MoreSee Less

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Q: What do truant Lincoln-School boys, the 1922 Pella High School Girl’s basketball team, a 1904 Opera House traveling troupe, numerous church groups, the High School faculty, and students ranging from junior high to Central college, all have in common? A: Big Rock!

Known today as Big Rock Park, this unique landmark has been a destination point and popular gathering spot since the founding of Pella. For 111 years the Big Rock and surrounding land was privately owned by generations of the Roorda family. In 1940 the Pella Chronicle noted that in this “pasture and timberland…lies the celebrated Big Rock which everyone has seen, for it is a favorite place for picnics. The Roordas have always been very kind about letting folks into this woodland."

In 1958, after Anna Roorda passed away, Rolscreen founder Pete Kuyper purchased 83 acres containing the rock and donated it to the city to be preserved and enjoyed as a park. The Chronicle stated: "The deed (to the property), which paralleled Mrs. Roorda's wishes during her lifetime, stipulated the area should remain in its natural state, particularly the large native trees. Mrs. Roorda would never allow any trees to be cut from the timber.”

Elsewhere the Chronicle explained: "Most welcome is the gift to the people of Pella by P. H. Kuyper to be used as a public park and recreation area. The woodland area is one of very few such beauty spots remaining near Pella. Within it is that big granite boulder known as Big Rock, a favorite natural wonder. And the woodland is lovely because it has been so little altered by men - there are hundreds of native oaks, walnut and hickory trees, and on some of the hillsides, the all but vanished hazel brush. Wildflowers grow in abundance.... The donor makes some wise stipulations - that three be no roads within the park, only walking or bridle paths; that the native trees be spared…."

The earliest mention of the rock in Pella’s newspapers came in 1892 when it was reported that the Missionary Society of Second Reformed Church held a picnic at the “Big Rock” west of town. In 1904 a certain P. Ten Hagen used carriages to bring the 14-person troupe of the Guy Hickman Company that was appearing at the Pella Opera House to Big Rock where the company “spent a very enjoyable time. Every member of the visiting party expressed the opinion that they had been more entertained upon this occasion than at any time since their fall tour began.”

In 1913 Central College students who were members of the Philomathian and Alethian literary societies held a Halloween party that gathered at the athletic field. The students, who were all in costume, proceeded to march solemnly to Oakwood Cemetery and then north to the "Big Rock woodland" where they celebrated with a big campfire.

In 1920 a dozen boys from Lincoln School “felt the 'Call of the Wild' on Thursday afternoon and quietly slipped off to the 'Big Rock’ in place of traveling toward the school house. Marshall Dennis was pressed into service and with some assistance and the aid of an auto truck, managed to return the boys to their room, before the middle of the afternoon. The truants are making up double time for the rest of the week after 4 p.m.”

In 1922 the High School girls basketball team had their pictures taken at the school and then headed out to Big Rock where the girls enjoyed “a feed consisting wienies, buns, pork and beans, and oranges.”

For years in the 1930s and 40s the high school group Future Farmers of America invited every 8th grade boy and his parents to attend a free wiener roast at Big Rock. The meal was preceded by a ball game and afterwards they learned more about the FFA organization.

The Boy Scouts learned to navigate the countryside, often trekking to Big Rock. In 1938 the boys had to follow a trail that consisted “of blazes on trees and posts, chalk marks and broken twigs.” They had to find their way to the apple orchard north of town (north of the Country Club golf course), then cross country to Big Rock. “From there the trail lead to a culvert through corn fields and pastures. And finally to an abandoned coal mine where a large bed of red-hot coals awaited their bacon, eggs, wieners, and potatoes.”

By the 1950s Blue Birds and Camp Fire Girls were making the all-day hike to Big Rock where they "cooked their dinner and supper”. In 1937, 71 high school freshmen hiked to Big Rock for a picnic courtesy of their class sponsors. “Supper was prepared around a camp fire.” That same year the entire 31 high school "faculty members and wives attended a wiener roast at Big Rock around a roaring campfire”, complete with cows lurking in the background. The paper noted that when they finally left for home at a very late hour, they very maturely “had a race to get out of the gate first so that they wouldn’t have to be the one to close it”.

Way back in 1904 the Central College newspaper The Ray reminisced about the “big rock, about which hang so many romances.”

Our Mission Statement calls on the Historic Pella Trust to "Protect and Promote Buildings, Landscapes and Sites important to the heritage of Pella, Iowa”. We would be remiss if we failed to promote Big Rock Park as one of the most historic and best-preserved sites in Pella.

In 1958 The Chronicle perfectly summed it up: "Here is a gift whose value is considerable now but, as the years pass, and native woodlands disappear and are lost forever, it will bring pleasure to us and to the children out of all proportion to the cost.” -BB
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January 1, 1902; "No city of the size of Pella in the state can boast of more fine buildings erected in the same length of time as have been built in 1900 and 1901" Pella Chronicle ... See MoreSee Less

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The small community of Grandville was located about 14 miles northeast of Pella, near Taintor, Iowa in Mahaska County. It was first platted on June 18, 1851 as Granville not Grandville. The post office closed in January of 1883 because the railroad did not go through this area. In 1912, there was still a two story school house, church and store. The school had two teachers with early elementary on the top floor and fourth grade on the main floor. The teacher in the photo was Lucy Weisner, others who taught there were Hazel Henry, Miss Barker, Grace Parr, Rev. Robert Priest and Belle Robertson. Later in 1920, a one story school replaced the unique two story one and the two story one was moved to Matt Hall's place.
I recognize many of these names as local families, Dick Leydens is listed as a student. He was my school bus driver in the 1960's. Information for this post was taken from a 1981 article in the Pella Chronicle by CC "Buck " Buerkens.
One student in this photo, Ada Roorda DeCook, reflected that they had prayer time every morning and hymns and bible stories were part of the curriculum. She mentioned spelling bees, ciphering matches and that programs for holidays made the year special. She stated that the teachers played with them during recess. Popular games were baseball, hide-and-seek, crack-the-whip and duck-off-the-rock. She also mentioned photos like these were not planned, so this clothing is their daily wear.
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2 months ago

Historic Pella Trust

This side-gabled, five-bay style of home was once common to Pella, being particularly popular from the late 1860s into the early 1880s. A few examples still stand around town, but many have been lost to the wrecking ball, or like this example, to fire. Most of these homes were of wood-frame construction, although some brick examples were also built. This particular home, located at 310 Franklin, was destroyed by fire in February 1951. Notice the ornate woodwork on the front porch and in the upper eaves, barely visible at the extreme left. A three-bay version of this home was also popular. (A "bay" was counted as either a window or door opening along the first-floor front facade.) -BB ... See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Historic Pella Trust

Remember when you weren't a number at the bank? ... See MoreSee Less

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