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.

Contact Information

Historic Pella Trust, Inc.

Phone :641-628-2935


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


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

We are excited to introduce the Tuttle Learning Walkway in partnership with the City of Pella! The walkway will provide an educational experience using signage, instructional capsules and landscaping to offer historical insights and information regarding Pella’s early history. 

Historic Pella Trust has committed to raise 100% of the funds needed for the project so that no tax dollars will be involved. The Learning Walk will utilize a vacated city alleyway beside Tuttle Cabin that leads north to Sunken Garden Park.

Historic Rock House for Rent

1401 University Street

Consider living in our historic rock house built by stone mason Dick VanLoon in the late 1800’s.  Four rooms on the main floor and a loft, perfect size for one person. Located on a large double lot with room for growing, gardening and enjoying country living on the edge of Pella. Please email including your phone number and tell us why you would like to live in this special landmark.   Email essay for Rock House Rental consideration 

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South Pella’s Amazing Boomtown Days: When the Des Moines Valley Rail Road arrived in 1864 South Pella experienced explosive growth, the likes of which Pella has not seen before or since (recall that at that time South Pella was the terminus of the DMVR). One iconic, early Pella firm that dominated Pella business like few others, was waiting for the railroad to arrive, having started operations on December 21, 1864, exactly one week prior to the first passenger train steaming into Pella. David Huber and Charles Snow combined to form the business of Snow & Huber. They were termed “Commission and Forwarding Agents”, but that didn’t begin to tell the story.

Snow & Huber not only handled the logistics of shipping and storage of freight for regional merchants, they also bought, stored and sold enormous amounts of commodities and produce from farmers. Their office and warehouses were initially located along the railroad tracks east of the depot. Records of their first few months in business show merchants traveling to Pella from Red Rock, Bennington, Pleasantville, Peoria, Knoxville, Wheeling, Monroe, Prairie City, Galesburg, Hartford, Des Moines, Indianola and even Winterset, to procure their merchandise shipped here via the railroad.

According to an early ad, Snow & Huber carried salt, cement, lime, wagons, buggies and sleighs. They had a huge assortment of agricultural implements and a large lumber yard that featured siding, fencing, flooring, shingles, lath, doors and windows. Snow & Huber also purchased wheat, rye, oats, corn, buckwheat, butter, eggs, rags, hides and poultry in staggering quantities. An 1869 article in the Burlington Hawk Eye newspaper reported that Snow & Huber had purchased 11,000 dozen eggs in 15 days, and in one span of seven weeks had shipped 122 railroad carloads of grain, along with several additional carloads of potatoes. Within two years, Snow & Huber quadrupled the number of eggs they bought - an astounding 22,000 dozen eggs were purchased and shipped in a seven day period; all this occurred in the days before refrigeration. In 1873 Snow & Huber placed an order for 300 wagons from a local wagon manufacturer (likely either Buerkens Mfg. or Pella Mfg.). The total amount of business conducted by Snow & Huber is hard to imagine.

At the same time that Snow & Huber opened, McGavic, Wray & Co. opened a large lumber yard one block west of the depot on the northeast corner of today’s South and East First Streets. An 1865 ad listed products including clear planks and boards, flooring and siding, fencing, joists, timbers, shingles, doors, sashes and blinds. One obstacle faced by early lumber yards was convincing customers to purchase “store-bought” lumber. At that time most people were still used to cutting their own timber and hauling it to a local sawmill to have it cut for them. Times change!

Even Snow & Huber wasn’t large enough to handle all the local demand. By 1869 a second commission, forwarding and agricultural company, named Ramsey & Co., had opened. This firm was located on the SW corner of today’s Clark and South Street, where American Wood Fibers is now located. Always smaller than Snow & Huber, Ramsey sold plows, reapers, wagons and cane mills. They were also in the business of purchasing and shipping grain. After a time, Ramsey’s facilities were taken over by Snow & Huber.

Construction was booming in Pella, and especially South Pella. By 1869 a third lumber yard appeared in South Pella, this one operated by Sam Atlee. Atlee’s was located across South Street from Ramsey’s. In 1871 Atlee’s Lumber Yard was purchased by one-time cabinet maker and former miller F. W. Waechter who changed the name to Waechter Lumber Yard. In 1904 the business was moved to the NW corner of Main and University Streets by his son, Adolphus, where it continued to be operated for four successive generations of Waechters.

Also by 1869 the first hotel had appeared in South Pella. The Ohio House was located on the east side of Main Street south of what is now University Street. Mentions of the Ohio House continued to appear in the local newspapers until at least 1886. By 1875 two more hotels had been opened near the depot. W. W. Nossaman operated the larger of the two new hotels, both located across South Street from the railroad depot. The name of the third hotel, which was located east around the corner from Nossaman’s Hotel, is not known. 1875, just 10 years after the arrival of the railroad, found fully 100 residences and business houses located in South Pella, which by then had a population of over 400. By this time, South Pella also had its own school - located on today’s Oskaloosa Street, approximately where Enterprise Rental is situated today. All this business activity happened, in South Pella, in the span of 10 short years. And this was only the beginning of South Pella.

South Pella’s history wasn’t always smooth sailing. Snow & Huber suffered through two disastrous fires. The first fire devastated their facilities in 1871. The story made the front page of the Iowa State Register newspaper (today’s Des Moines Register) for multiple days, with initial details sent from Pella’s nearby depot via telegraph. Snow & Huber soon relocated their business to both sides of Oskaloosa Street on the west side of East First Street, only to have their enormous wooden grain elevator again destroyed by fire in 1887. About this time Charles Snow left the firm before moving to Des Moines. David Huber continued to operate the business, thereafter known simply as David S. Huber. Huber went on to serve as alderman for South Pella and was then elected mayor of Pella in 1903.

The names of Snow and Huber remain familiar to many Pella residents. South Pella’s Huber Street was named in David Huber’s honor shortly after he retired in 1913 after nearly 50 years in business. The Cox-Snow Music Center at Central College is named after Charles Snow’s granddaughter, Queene Snow, and her husband Henry Cox. Stay tuned for more amazing history of South Pella. BB
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1 week ago

Historic Pella Trust

Laredo, Iowa and the half way station...written by Dave Baker#LAREDO, Iowa (#MAHASKA County)

FOUNDERS: Thomas M. Williams
POST OFFICE: 1856-1864
LOCATION: Sections 23 & 26 of Black Oak Township


Yesterday we took a little look at Leighton, Iowa. A decade before its founding however, there was another town located to the north along what was a state road. Laredo was laid out in 1857 and was sometimes called “Nine Mile,” as it was exactly nine miles between Pella and Oskaloosa. In fact, for two years before Laredo was platted, the United States Postal Service established a post office called Nine Mile at the site.

The small community straddled the township section line with Main Street running east and west between Sections 26 and 23. Madison and Monroe Streets ran parallel to Main; Spring, Iowa, and another street ran perpendicular. Because of faded writing on the plat, I am unable to make out the other north and south road. The neat little four block plat had, at its peak, two stores, a hotel, Dr. Medsker’s physician office (with nurse), and beginning in 1870, a Christian church. Mail services and stage lines would stop at the town since it was halfway between the destinations. Often, they would change horses here.

When the railroad bypassed Laredo, many of the residents moved to Leighton. Some even took the buildings with them. The Union Meeting House, for example, was taken to Leighton and became the original Ebenezer Reformed church structure. Other buildings wound up on the nearby Dykstra farm. Today the town is only a historical detail; largely forgotten from common and collective memory. While nothing remains of the old town, there is a landmark on Highway 163. Between Pella and Oskaloosa, you will see the 1930 Halfway Station. While Laredo was long gone even by 1930, this stands on ground where the town once existed; it too a testament to changing times and technology.


1) Laredo sent a total of four residents to fight in the Civil War. All were in Company C of the 15th Iowa Infantry. Sylvester Rynearson was the highest ranking of the four, ultimately making Captain. He later worked for John Voorhies whom built the spectacular Voorhies Mansion (today Pella Victorian Villa) that everyone loves in 1871.

TOWN MOTTO or SLOGAN: “ A Little Bit of Town And Country”


1) The 1930 Halfway Station (even though the town was gone by 1930.) It’s still an interesting building.
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1 week ago

Historic Pella Trust

Interesting history about our neighbors in Leighton...#LEIGHTON, Iowa (#MAHASKA County)

FOUNDERS: William C. Leighton, John Carver, and W. A. Burt
NAME ORIGIN: William C. Leighton
POST OFFICE: 1865-Present
LOCATION: Section 35 of Black Oak Township


Leighton was platted in an irregular eight block polygon adjacent to the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad—which, for all intents and purposes, is exactly the way it is today. If you drive into Leighton today, you will essentially see the exact same layout that you would have in the 1880s, save a few distinct differences. The railroad tracks that once ran south of Patch Street, adjacent to Muchakinock Creek, are no more. Also, the westernmost street—West Street, has been delisted. North of Chestnut Street is Jackson’s addition. This is the only amendment to the original plat.

The railroad set up a depot in late 1865 that stood south of the intersection of Otley and Patch. Aside from this, a sawmill was the first sustained business operation in town. Other enterprises included a lumber yard, drug store, two general stores, a shoemaker, blacksmith, butcher, grocery store and Walton’s Hotel. As Leighton grew it became an interesting mix of cultures. Many of the original settlers and their families were Dutch. Leighton was close to Pella and so we see many names associated with this heritage—Bogaard, Bruxvoort, Van Roekel, Van Haaften, and Gosselink. Leighton was also close to the mining camps of Fishville and Evans therefore it attracted a population of miners and mining foremen. Many of these persons were of Welsh, and Irish origin. Henry Kuperus was an early resident whom had a particularly interesting background for the 19th Century. He was an immigrant from the Dutch Colonies in South Africa and beginning in 1913 ran a store in town.

Records indicate that there have only been two congregations that met in town. Both are still in existence though neither are in their original sanctuaries. The Leighton Christian Reformed Church was founded in 1857 and the Ebenezer Reformed Church of Leighton, established in 1894. We don’t know what the going rate was for a good pastor at Ebenezer; at Leighton Christian however a good pastor could expect to make $500 per annum in the 1890s. He also would be able to accommodate himself in the parsonage however. Ebenezer eventually owned the ball diamond in town.

Today Leighton is located off of Highway 163 between Pella and Oskaloosa. There are no more coal mines and the railroad no longer passes through. There are however, still a number of businesses in town. Among these are Leighton Lumber, De Vries Cabinet and Countertop, Leighton State Bank, Leighton Processed Meats, Dave’s Pro Auto, and just outside of town, Tassel Ridge Winery.


1) Leighton once had a saloon but it met with an unfortunate end. When Muchakinock Creek overflowed in 1881, the water toppled the wooden water tower. As it came down, it hit the side of the saloon—an old wooden building also located near the stream. The saloon, being unsecured, came loose from its crude foundation and floated downstream. It was never rebuilt.
2) Five doctors have practiced in town since 1865. Two of them, Dr Howe, and Dr. Sybenga were also mayor.
3) I’ve found conflicting information about the Leighton Schools. It did have its own district, but the years in existence and the building years do not match up. What I do know is that the town relied on Black Oak schools throughout its early years. A “modern school,” was built after 1910 and Leighton has been in Pella’s school district since 1958.

TOWN MOTTO or SLOGAN: “ A Little Bit of Town And Country”


1) Tassel Ridge Winery
2) The Ebenezer and Leighton Reformed Churches
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More about South Pella’s amazing but largely forgotten history. Today we take a look at the most important day in the history of Pella outside of its founding in 1847: The arrival of the Des Moines Valley Railroad (DMVR). Pella’s future changed forever on Wednesday afternoon, December 28, 1864 when a passenger train pulled into South Pella’s brand new railroad depot. Pella was finally connected to the rest of the country through a modern, timely means of transportation. Overnight South Pella became a boomtown. Raw materials and goods began pouring into the area; access to unlimited markets opened to farmers and manufacturers; passengers and travelers could conveniently access distant steamboats and railroads; correspondence could be sent and received quickly and inexpensively.

For the first 17 years of Pella’s existence, transportation was chiefly provided by horses, either pulling wagons laden with freight, or coaches for mail and passengers. Fortuitously, Scholte had the foresight to locate Pella on the ridge running parallel between the Des Moines and Skunk Rivers. This ridge stretched all the way from Keokuk on the Mississippi River to Des Moines in the center of the state - a distance of some 140+ miles. A primitive “road” followed the ridge providing the primary means of transportation through this part of the state. With no bridges or alternate routes, travel and transportation to the center of the state was primarily funneled up this road.

The railroad was a long time in arriving in Pella. An initial attempt had been made to make the Des Moines River navigable for year-round steamboat traffic through an ambitious project that would have entailed a system of 37 locks and dams between Keokuk and Des Moines. When this project eventually collapsed with only a few locks and dams completed, attention was shifted to constructing a railroad along the north side of the Des Moines River valley. Rails were initially laid from Keokuk in 1857 and had reached Eddyville by 1861, when the Civil War caused a halt to construction. In 1864 construction was restarted and the railroad reached Oskaloosa in July and Pella in late December.

For over a year Pella remained the terminus of the Des Moines Valley Railroad. As such Pella had its own depot and even a roundhouse in which to rotate the engines to travel back to Keokuk. All the local railroad facilities were located in South Pella, near the current location of Heritage Lace on South Street. For ten years the DMVR was the only railroad in the county as well as being one of the first in central Iowa. As a result, merchants, farmers and passengers flocked from miles around to use the depot for travel and freight.

Seemingly overnight South Pella residences and businesses sprang up: hotels arose; stockyards appeared; lumber yards sprouted; prominent shipping and forwarding agents bought and sold farm commodities and implements. Business boomed and Pella flourished. It was nearly two years before the railroad reached Des Moines; until that time Pella was a regular destination location for farmers and merchants from as far away as Des Moines, Indianola and Winterset.

It was over ten years before another railroad came to Marion County and during that time Pella remained a major shipping center for much of Marion, Jasper and Mahaska counties. During that time Pella’s population increased nearly 20% and South Pella’s population went from essentially zero in 1854 to over 400 by 1875. In 1870, as a sign of South Pella’s importance to the community, an overwhelming majority of Pella voters approved the annexing of South Pella and South East Pella.

The railroad had an immediate and long-lasting impact on Pella and single-handedly put South Pella on the map. We will talk more about some of those amazing early South Pella businesses in upcoming posts. BB
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Some additional information relating to our last post on South Pella's flour mills. Scant information is available on the smaller Pearl Mill; operated by the Tysseling Brothers - who later went on to own and operate the larger Washington Mill. Few mentions are made of Pearl Mill, which was in operation by 1869 as witnessed by the drawing from the Birds Eye View of Pella map and an ad from the Pella Blade.

Ernst F. Grafe, a German-born citizen who met the Hollanders in St. Louis before Scholte had even chosen a location for Pella, wound up joining his Holland friends in Pella in 1848 and opened Pella's second store. In 1855 he built Pella's first flour mill (Washington Mill) in South Pella and operated it until he sold it in 1866 to John Nollen and Peter Bousquet. They in turn sold it to the Tysseling Bros. sometime between 1873 and 1877. The Tysselings operated Washington Mill until it was destroyed by fire in September 1893.

An extraordinary entrepreneur, E. F. Grafe lived in Pella for over 25 years, served 12 years as Justice of the Peace and one year as Pella's mayor, before moving to Nebraska to operate a flour mill in Grand Island.

Next up: South Pella's biggest red-letter day was also the city of Pella's most significant one since its founding. Can you guess what that event was? BB
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South Pella has an amazing history that has been largely forgotten. The area south of University Street was originally laid out as two separate plats by two different owners. The slightly older one was called South East Pella and was located east of what is now Clark Street. South Pella was the area west of Clark Street. Both were platted in 1854 and then annexed to the city of Pella in 1870.

Many people don't realize that there were two flour mills located on east University - the larger one, called the Washington Mill, was in South Pella (on the south side of University between East 1st and E. 2nd streets); and the smaller one was the Pearl Mill located in South East Pella, south of University between East 2nd and East 3rd streets.

The Washington Mill was the larger of the two and was one of the first major industries in Pella, being founded in 1855 by E. F. Grafe and George Henckler. Before the mill was a year old Henckler sold his interest to F. W. Waechter, who later went on to purchase Sam Atlee's lumberyard. The name was changed to Waechter Lumber Yard in 1871. The Lumber yard was later moved to the NW corner of University and Main streets.

The Washington Mill was steam operated. It had an enormous one-cylinder 75 horse-power engine that was later increased to 125 hp. The building was described as four stories high (including the basement) and had a 50' tall smokestack. The property encompassed 2/3 of a block and during busy times the mill ran 24-hours a day. The mill employed five men and could turn out 75 barrels of flour per day. The mill began 10 years before the railroad came to Pella and thus was a valuable addition to the area. Once the railroad arrived the mills were able to ship their products out and production increased proportionally.

I have never seen an actual photograph of either mill. If anyone has one they would be willing to share I would love to see it. BB
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A few days ago we posted a photo taken around 1960 of Central College's original student union located along the then still-existing Peace Street. Here is a later photo from the 1970s showing the northeast part of campus with the newly remodeled student union to the right, the pond where Peace Street used to be and the library and Gaass Hall dormitory in the background. BB ... See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Historic Pella Trust

If you recognize this location then you have a good memory. Nothing in this photo remains in Pella - even the street leading to the left is gone! This was the Central College Student Union, with Dunn Cottage (which once served as the president's house) in the background at left. Peace Street was the street to the left, which was removed when the pond was built. Broadway is the street running from left to high at the bottom of the photo. This photo dates to the early/mid-1960s. BB ... See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Historic Pella Trust

The old Diamond Station is no longer the HPT office, it still adds historic charm and style to Main Street. It was featured in the second HPT newsletter, page 3. There are arrows at the top and bottom to turn the pages, it is the first time I tried to link to our newsletter archive, but it brings you to the front page.
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