With only one week left in the month, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs invites Iowans of all ages to learn more about the state’s past, through Iowa History Month in March (and why not year-round?).
According to a Department of Cultural Affairs release.
The month features a range of in-person and online programs hosted by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. You can listen to online presentations, participate in activities designed for families with children, discover documents in the new catalog of the Iowa History Collection and take guided tours at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines .
This year, Iowans can also see a pop-up exhibit on “Iowa’s People and Places,” which the state museum sent to all 99 counties to mark the state’s 175th anniversary. Iowa in 2021. Across the state, schools, libraries, museums and other organizations are hosting their own historic events to add to the month-long celebration.
Iowans are encouraged to post their own #IowaHistory stories, discoveries and events throughout the month on social media. Here are some ideas to get you started. . .
1. Visit the Iowa State Historical Museum9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.
3. Subscribe to The Iowa Annalsthe quarterly journal of the State Historical Society of Iowa.
4. Visit one of Iowa’s 27 National Historic Landmarksincluding the legendary Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, which was designated in 2021.
5. Add your home or business to Produce Iowa Locations Database, where film and media producers find places to set their stories. In 1987, a Girl Scout named Sue Riedel found the place that became the “Field of Dreams” – and changed the course of Dyersville’s history.
6. Sign up a young historian for a workshop or day camp.
7. Find out about the virtual exhibition experiences at the Iowa State Historical Museum.
8. Show your support with a Raygun Iowa History T-Shirt.
9. Join Goldie’s Kids Club to enjoy historical activities for children and families.
10. Volunteer at a history museum in your community. the Local History Network offers resources to help you.
Some National Monuments of Iowa
Although Davenport is Iowa’s third largest city (with lots of notable history), there are no National Historic Landmarks here. The closest is in Clinton — the Van Allen and Company department storea historic commercial building located on Fifth Avenue and Second Street South in Clinton.
The four-storey building was designed by Louis Sullivan and ordered by John Delbert Van Allen. Built from 1912 to 1914 as big storeit now has an upper floor apartments with commercial space on the ground floor.
Architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924), a mentor of Frank Lloyd Wright, also designed another national landmark in Iowa – the magnificent Merchants National Bank in Grinnell.
Built in Grinnell in 1914, this simple cubic-plan structure is one of the best examples of the “jewel box” banks Sullivan designed late in his career, according to the state. Today, catering National Bank Merchants is home to a number of civic organizations.
Hawkeye’s newest national monument (designated last year) is Clear Lake’s famous Surf Ballroom and Museum. Originally built in 1934, tragedy struck the Surf in the early morning hours of April 20, 1947, when a fire destroyed the building.
Plans for its replacement were quickly underway and a new Surf Ballroom was rebuilt opposite the original location in what was the parking lot of the original venue. The current Surf Ballroom reopened on July 1, 1948. The Surf got its name (and design) from the original owners’ desire to create a ballroom that looked like an ocean beach club, depending on the location. website.
The murals on the back walls have been hand painted to depict crashing waves, swaying palm trees, sailboats, and lighthouses. The furniture was bamboo and rattan and the atmosphere that of a South Seas island. The stage is surrounded by palm trees and the clouds projecting overhead make it look like you’re dancing outside under the stars.
In the 1950s artists like The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Little Richard, Jan and Dean and Conway Twitty all took center stage here. The Surf Ballroom was one of the first ballrooms in the state to feature rock ‘n roll, and the big names in rock featured here have made it a staple on the performance circuit, the site says.
Such was the case on February 2, 1959, when the Surf hosted the famous Winter Dance Party with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Dion & The Belmonts and Frankie Sardo. It was this fateful sight that left the most lasting mark on the Surf Ballroom.