2022 Pella Preservation Trust Review

Enthusiastic to protect historic properties, we had a January planning meeting, hosted in the home of Duane and Mary Van Maanen. The board members enjoyed a charcuterie meal with a delicious selection of nibbles, warm meatballs and stuffed mushrooms finished with a round of rich desserts served in vintage stemmed glassware. The gourmet meal was followed by an active discussion of our 2022 plans including the decision to officially change our name, and we have decided on Pella Preservation Trust!  Other decisions were to offer to help with the research needed to move along the process of forming the Scholte Garden Historic District. We discussed advertising a home improvement grant where we would fund a project for a homeowner in exchange for a conservation easement on their property.  Our final goal was to continue our work with endangered properties as necessary.

We continue to celebrate the overlay zoning for the collegiate historic district as a major success. The new proposed Scholte Garden historic district will expand the protection of historic Pella. We thank the members of the Pella Preservation Commission for their research and work towards completion of the new historic district. A historic district with overlay zoning improves property values by regulating changes to the exteriors of buildings and making sure that new construction fits in with the architectural style and era of the neighborhood.

 We joined PACE Alliance as new members this summer, connecting and networking with the business community for preservation of our historic buildings. Our summer included an information table during Thursday night in Pella and at the museum during Pioneer Days in Knoxville. I also made a presentation to the Rotary group, engaging in an active question and answer discussion after the meeting.

We elected officers and Ann Summit accepted the nomination of President, Shawn Thomas is Vice President, Bruce Boertje secretary and Matt McCulla is the treasurer. We currently have a board of 11 active members and 2 emeritus members.

A major project was the update and third reprinting of the Architectural Tour of Historic Early Pella. This self-guided tour booklet reprint was financed by a grant provided from the Pella Community Foundation.  An updated photo and descriptions of 42 properties are featured as 3 tours, each pointing out the remaining early structures built by the original settlers along with buildings of architectural interest. The booklets are available through the Welcome Windmill, Ulrich’s meat market, Hometown Variety and the Pella Historical Museum gift shop. A donation of $2 per booklet is appreciated.

   Chris Brown from Pella Community Library visited with the board about the Memory Data Base last spring. The Trust has provided a lot of information for this site.  This data base is so interesting, https://cdm17106.contentdm.oclc.org/, you will be both entertained and educated! It is a valuable resource for all people involved with Pella. Thank you to everyone involved with helping build the data base.

The Tuttle Learning Walk is a busy destination for many daily walkers, we are working towards expanding those signs to include signs at these locations, the Soul Sleepers Church, the rock house, and a new sign about Tuttle Cabin.  A stroll down the learning walk will help you to discover many interesting facts about our community, even who invented the cookie!

Our Board enjoyed a presentation and discussion from representatives of the Spirit of Pella Organization. This group has added exciting Christmas decorations and new holiday traditions for the community. They also have updating plans for areas of downtown. They answered several questions the board had about protecting the historic feel of downtown and about the long-term maintenance of future projects. The Spirit of Pella group seems very conscientious of the overall effects.

We continue to feel concern for several city landmarks, the Pella Community Center, the hose tower on the historic fire station, and repairs needed for the 100-year-old fountain in Central Park. There are also several historic privately own properties that we are actively working with the homeowners. A conservation easement prevents rapid attrition of homes to investment interests, giving time for the Trust to find alternatives to demolition. Without that easement some historic properties are lost because the owners did not seek for alternative offers. If you are considering selling your home for demolition, we would like to visit with you first. Another issue is hiring skilled labor to provide upkeep and restoration. PPT is trying to help with this by maintaining a find a contractor webpage. There is a link to this page on our website homepage.  https://historicpellatrust.org/

Activities at Tuttle Log Home have continued to increase after closing for the pandemic. The second-grade students of Pella Christian School visited for a living history demonstration in May. It was a wonderful day of sharing history of life in the mid-1800s, through hands on activities including household chores, farming, and fun!  Tuttle cabin was also open to tours during Tulip Time. 

Lisa Zylstra brought the students from Dutch Day Camp to Tuttle and the Learning Walk for an experience that the Dutch encountered 175 years ago. We also hosted guests at Tuttle Cabin in August for the 175th Anniversary of Pella. This event brought a lot of visitors tracing back the steps of Scholte encouraged by Bruce Boertje’s Facebook weekly updates of the Dutch coming to Iowa and buying the homestead of Thomas and Nancy Tuttle to build their Pella.   We had a busy open house at Tuttle Cabin last December during the 2021 Tour of Homes and plan to do this again December 2022.

As always, our mission is “ to protect and promote buildings, landscapes, and sites important to the heritage of Pella, Iowa” is supported entirely by the contributions of members and project grants. A sincere thank you to everyone who has helped us preserve Pella’s heritage. Historic Pella Trust / Pella Preservation Trust is a 501c3 Non-Profit organization. Please join us through 2023!

Jennifer Van Kooten