State Historical Society of Iowa Awards $500,000 for 27 Projects in 25 Communities

    DES MOINES – Preserving the Historic Squirrel Cage Jail records in Council Bluffs. Saving the 1885 "Guardian Angel" painting in Des Moines. Racing against time to restore the Jasper County Courthouse clock.

    These are just three of the projects that will receive Historical Resource Development Grants and Country School Grants in fiscal year 2018 from the State Historical Society of Iowa. Overall, the State Historical Society of Iowa awarded $535,726 to museums, historical organizations and others for 27 projects in 25 communities across 21 Iowa counties today. View a list of grant recipients, alphabetized by category and then by city.

    Historical Resource Development Program grants help individuals and organizations preserve, conserve, interpret and educate the public about documentary collections, historic preservation and museums. Since 1990, the program has awarded more than $16 million to 1,200 historical projects across the state to conserve museum collections, microfilm newspapers, preserve photographs, install exhibits, survey historic neighborhoods, nominate buildings and districts to the National Register of Historic Places, and more.

    The Country School Grant Program provides grants for the preservation and maintenance of Iowa’s one- and two-room country schools. The funds also may be used for interpreting the history of country schools or for educational activities that take place within them. The Country School program was created in 1999 and has awarded about $225,000 in funding for more than 50 projects across the state.

    In Council Bluffs, the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County received a $1,226 grant to preserve and protect materials from the past century at the Historic Squirrel Cage Jail, which was built in 1885 and was in use until 1969. It was added in 1972 to the National Register of Historic Places and today serves as a museum and repository for historic documents and photographs.

    In Des Moines, the St. John's Lutheran Foundation, Inc., will use a $4,336 grant to restore the "Guardian Angel" painting done in 1885 by Theodore Leistner, who also helped paint murals at the State Capitol. Many of those early Capitol murals were lost in a 1904 fire, but the "Guardian Angel" provides a glimpse of the composition, style and technique that mural artists used in those larger works. The painting will be restored by Chicago Art Conservator Barry Bauman and will be featured in an art-appreciation tour at St. John's Lutheran Church.

    In Newton, the Newton Historic Preservation Commission will use a $44,500 grant to preserve the Jasper County Courthouse clockwork by restoring the Seth Thomas-designed tower clock and returning its bell to working order. The funding also will be used to upgrade electrical equipment, fix broken glass, complete exterior painting and weatherproof the structure to prevent damage. The Newton Historic Preservation Commission hopes the project will inspire Jasper County officials and residents to focus on historic preservation.

    The Historical Resource Development Program and Country School Grant Program are funded by the Resource Enhancement and Protection Act, established by the Iowa General Assembly in 1989. Local governments, nonprofit corporations, individuals, businesses and American Indian tribes are eligible to submit applications. Projects funded in this grant cycle must be completed by Nov. 30, 2019.

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    The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations. 

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