Friday, May 31, 2013

This Place Matters Features Historic Buildings

This picture and some of the article below came from Frank Myers' blog, June 7, 2013.

Chariton Free Public Library trustees and the librarian (from left) Trustees Tim McGee, Sarah Davis, Ruth Comer (chair) and Jim Mefferd and Library Director Kris Murphy.

Chariton's beautifully maintained library dates from 1904, when the front part of the current building, shown here, was constructed. It was a Carnegie Library, funded in part by a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie, and designed by Chicago-based Patton & Miller (Normand Smith Patton and Grant C. Miller). If the library looks familiar, that's because its design became the prototype "Chariton Plan" for many Carnegies across the country.

Its central circulation desk allowed a librarian to keep an eye on everything that was going on because it faced the entrance and was open to large reading rooms on either side. The extremely high basement also allowed useful rooms on the lower level. The Lucas County Genealogical Society now occupies the former Music Room.

Although the building has been by now more than doubled in size, the major addition to the north mirrored the original building in design, materials --- even the tile roof --- so it remains a harmonious composition. That addition, a full two floors to the north, also allowed a ground-floor entrance from a parking lot, considerably more convenient than the original dizzying flight of front steps.
May is Preservation Month, intended to raise awareness of the power historic preservation had both to protect the fabric of and enhance the present and future of places like Chariton.

Alyse Hunter, president of the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission has been carry around "This Place Matters" signs to promote a national campaign to recognize Chariton's historical buildings.

Chariton has 15 properties listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Many of these buildings have a rich history.

Communities across the country are posting pictures to the National Registry website. The preservation movement has picked up steam as more people are recognizing the value of older buildings.

The first picture in this series was taken in front of the First Presbyterian Church, built during 1909, at the intersection of Braden and North 8th. It is built of brick and pressed block coating over a limestone base.

(from left) Ilene Church, Bill and Carol Marner, Ev Brightman, Sarah Palmer (retired First Presbyterian pastor), Doug Jones and Dru Thorne.

The church features beautifully stained glass windows and a newly rejuvenated stained glass dome over the santuary. The pipe organ also has been repaired recently and restored to its place.

Below is a picture of the dome taken by Frank Myers. If you would like to see more about this church, visit his website by clicking the following link: 

The next building is the James T. Crozier house at the Intersection of North 7th Street and Ilion Avenue, now owned and lovingly maintained by Fred and Sherry Steinbach, who are holding the sign. The house is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, thanks to the Steinbachs,, on its own merit and also as one of a suite of National Registry properties in Chariton designed by hometown architect William Perkins

J.T. Crozier was a pioneer Chariton businessman whose landmark store was located for more than 80 years on the southeast corner of the square. The family home, a substantial frame structure.

After fire destroyed the frame building in 1917, J.T. Crozier employed Perkins, who had just moved to town to open his office, to design this house. It was intended to be "fireproof", although that is a relative term. The exterior walls are tile clad in brick, but the interior is frame. It falls generally into the "Prairie" style.

Drs. Herman and Egley had purchased the Crozier property, thinking the house might work as a clinic. When it became evident that it would not, a new clinic was built to the north and the Egleys moved into the house.

Fred and Sherry Steinbach have worked hard to upgrade the home's infrastructure, swept away acres of wall-to-wall carpeting to reveal (refinished) oak flooring, rebuilt the living room fireplace and redecorated in a manner sympathetic to the style of the old house. As a result, the Crozier-Steinbach house is one of Chariton's most distinctive preservation success stories.
Here's another of those "This Place Matters" photos that have been recognized in May. Behind the sign are Barb Vogel, Kay Brown, Fred Steinbach, Joe Sellers and Adam Bahr.

The Lucas County Historical Society purchased the old house and its grounds (three and a half acres) during 1966, spent a couple of years restoring it, then opened it to the public during 1968. For a number of years, it was the only building on the museum campus, then others were added. The John L. Lewis Building (in two stages), Puckerbrush School, Otterbein Church, pioneer log cabin, barn and blacksmith shop.

It was built during 1911 by Andrew Jackson Stephens, a Chariton-based contractor who worked throughout the state.

When the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places during 1987, there was considerable debate about how to classify it. Architectural historians called it "American vernacular". It might also be called "classical revival" because of the portico and porches appended to what is essentially an American foursquare building.

The material that it's constructed of, plus the odd mix of styles, are what make it unique. The walls are a mix of rusticated concrete block and brick of a similar color. It is not, despite the Leader's 1911 description, a "pretty house" but it is distinctive and interesting.
Anyone who wishes to visit the old house, and the rest of the Lucas County Historical Society Museum, is welcome to do so. We open for the summer season June 1, 1- 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free. The place actually is open year-around by appointment or catch as catch can.

Again if you want to read more you can visit Frank Myers website at:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

John L. Lews Mining and Labor Museum

Judi Bagley of Altoona looks at a coal car on display at the Appreciation Open House at the John L. Lewis Mining and Labor Museum in Lucas April 27th.  The car was restored by Virgil Storm and has miners' picks in it.  Bagley's son-in-law, Rod Surber, was editor of the Chariton Newspapers. (Bill Howes photo).

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

S.M. Club Celebrates 58th Anniversary

This article appeared in the Chariton Leader on Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On May 12 the S.M. (Schoolmates) Club, a local social club, celebrated their 58th anniversary of existence. The club meets the second Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. at various dining places and they visit together about everything.
The S.M. Club currently has eight members.(refer to above picture)  Mullen explained how the S.M. Club got started.  On May 12, 1955, eight young ladies met at the home of Lois Davis and decided to form a club.  The following people were charter members:  Joan Bell, Lois Davis, Donna DeBok, Donna Gathercale Prather, Joan Kingsbury, Thelma Loynachan Stevenson, Minnie Mullen and Margaret Stansbery.  Of the charter members , Bell and Stansbery are both deceased.
All  but two of the original members went to Chariton High School.  The ones who didn't attend CHS  had husbands that went there.
The club members decided to hold their meetings the second Wednesday afternoon of each month.  Dues were set at $1 a year and 10 cents a month.
"We met at different member's homes and we talked about everything like we do now.  One difference is that we talked more about young children then because we all had young children," Mullen said.
At their second meeting, the club was named the S.M. Club, with S.M. being short for Schoolmates.  Everyone took their preschool children to the club and all the children knew the S.M. Club as part of their family.  The club had officers, committees and secret pals.
"The secret pals were drawn and you had the same secret pal for a year.  They gave each other gifts at each meeting such as nick knacks,", Mullen said.
As the years went by, everyone decided they had enough nick knacks, so they did away with secret pal gifts and donated that money instead to a needy organization.
Dues were raised to $5 a year.  As their children got older, the club's members decided to meet in the evening, leaving the children at home with their dads. Finally, the club members decided the woman hosting each meeting would serve dinner to the members. 
Dues are now $10 a year.  Now as the members are getting older, they no longer cook dinner the second Wednesday of each month.  They go out to eat accompanied by their husbands.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Lucas County Health Center Volunteer Program

This article appeared in a Chariton Newspaper in May of 2005

LCHC Volunteers log more than 10,000 hours

Lucas County Health Center Volunteer Services recently honored the dedicated volunteers who work to preserve Lucas County's historic past while working at the Lucas County Genealogy department at the Chariton Library. Over the past three years, genealogy volunteers have donated more than 10,000 hours researching local records. Recognized during National Volunteer Week from left are volunteers Larry Shriver - Pioneer Cemetery; and Darlene Arnold, Gwen Sims, Connie Smith, Sharon Neel and Lois Orfield - Genealogy. These tireless community members show remarkable patience in their work to preserve Lucas County family histories. 
The Lucas County Genealogical Society was founded in April of 1976 in order to preserve, collect and make readily available the historical and genealogical records of Lucas County Iowa and to help local and distant persons to research their ancestry.

The Society maintains a library collection housed in the Family History Room (now known as the Lucas County Genealogical Society Room), lower level of the Chariton Public Library at 803 Braden Ave.
Betty Cross in the Genealogy Research Room
Volunteers work in the Genealogy room to maintain a large assortment of Lucas Co. family histories, and newspaper records, including obituaries stored in a many drawer card file. This card file contains cards filed alphabetically by Surname referring to notebooks of obituaries or referring to correspondence with family members or other resources, such as Family History books.

Karen Patterson, Darlene Arnold, Betty Cross, Melody Wilson, Mary Ruth Pierschbacher, Mabel Schluessler, Connie Smith, Dorothy Allen, and Sharon Neel are some of the volunteers that work in the Genealogy Room making sure records are kept up to date, research is done, assisting visitors, answering emails, etc.

Volunteers visit Lucas County Cemeteries to take pictures of the headstones and then Darlene Arnold places the pictures, with a brief description, on Iowa Gravestones on the Internet. 

Have you heard about "Grave Witching"? Click on this website for an interesting article about grave witching: Grave Witching.

The Iowa State Historical Society gave over 140 microfilm rolls, containing copies of the newspapers in Lucas County dating back to 1867, to the Chariton Library years ago. Volunteer, Darlene Arnold started an every name index, from the newspapers stored on these microfilm rolls, over 20 years ago. Recently the name index was placed on the Internet at Chariton Newspaper Index. Since then, researching requests, from all over the country, have doubled. Volunteers are available all year long to answer the hundreds of requests for information generated by the index on the Internet. During the first two months of 2010, there were over 500 requests.

April 18, 2012, Darlene was recognized for her years of volunteer service at a Volunteers Award ceremony where she was presented with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award by Veronica Fuhs, hospital CEO and Linda Baynes, director of Volunteer Services. This award can only be presented to a volunteer who has given over 4,000 hours of volunteer time. We know Darlene has given more time than that to help people find the histories of their families.

Lucas County is lucky to have so many volunteers working out of the Lucas County Health Center doing all kinds of volunteer work. For information on these volunteer opportunities or services, contact Linda Baynes, LCHC Volunteer Services Department at 774-3226.