James Perley

James Perley

If you know about at least one old and cherished building in your town or in one of the other towns in Harrison County, like the Merry Brook Schoolhouse in Woodbine, that reminds us what those early educational institutions looked like, you might be a preservationist.

If you are interested in the treasure trove of pictures of old buildings, newspaper clippings from long ago, genealogy and cemetery information, and more in the Harrison County Genealogical Society's quarters below Merry Brook Schoolhouse, you might be a preservationist.

If you've visited the Harrison County Historical Village and Iowa Welcome Center's campus and seen a log cabin, an early general store (a mercantile building), and other preserved buildings, plus a museum full of interesting items from the past, you might be a preservationist.

If you have seen the post office's murals or the Rialto Theater in Missouri Valley or the Wisecup Farm Museum in Missouri Valley, you might be a preservationist.

If you have visited the courthouse in Logan, you've also visited a National Register of Historic Places landmark. If you looked up at its dome and looked down at the inlaid tile patterns that tell their own story and wondered about it, well, you might be on the road to becoming a historic preservationist.

If you know that Murray Hall in Little Sioux is an 1877 wooden mercantile or general store that is on the National Register of Historic Places, or that the Town and Country Arts building in Modale (also on the National Register as being of significance to the county, state, and nation's history) was once a schoolhouse, a movie theater, and housed a chapter of the Masonic Lodge before becoming a performing arts center, you might be a preservationist.

If you've visited the museum that once was a dance hall in Mondamin and the immaculately preserved Spooner/Holton House, you might be a preservationist.

If you've visited the baseball field in Pisgah or seen the museum that preserves the memory of a Harrison County native who once was part of a major league baseball team or wonder how Persia got its exotic name, you might be a preservationist.

If you've seen Dunlap's Dougal House and McLean Museum or seen Magnolia's replica of the log cabin that once housed important county records, as well as the iconic town water pump, you might be a preservationist.

You are probably a preservationist since you know about places that matter to us, places that define us and tell our story, bringing us together as the past touches the present and reaches into the future. 

There are several groups in Harrison County that actively work toward preserving our past so that we can share it with our children and grandchildren. These groups network with each other and work diligently toward preserving the past. 

The Harrison County Historical Society's latest project was working with the Department of Natural Resources and the Welcome Center staff to preserve the oldest building on the Welcome Center's campus (the mercantile building) by providing funding to landscape around the building to provide better drainage so that rainwater and snow melt are directed away from the building. Guttering was also installed to help direct moisture away from the building itself. The Historical Society has been involved in projects that network with the Genealogical Society and with the Harrison County Historic Preservation Commission on projects.

If you are interested in some of its activities and becoming part of the action, please contact the Welcome Center museum to get the contact information that will put you in touch with the Historic Society's board of directors.

Another group working with historic preservation in the county is the Little Sioux Historic Preservation Association. It works primarily with Murray Hall, but is also an active partner in other historic preservation projects. Larry Stevens in Mondamin will provide information about its activities and is available through his phone number and/or with his listing as an antique dealer.

The Harrison County Historic Preservation Commission is easily reached by contacting, myself, James Perley, at 712-649-2991. Tours of Murray Hall are also easily arranged by using the same contact information. 

The Harrison County Historic Preservation Commission was recently awarded a grant from the Dean J. King Family Foundation for restoration work that will stabilize the hall and preserve it for many more years and will be working with that project in 2020. Board members will be glad to put you in touch with the National Park Services' library of information about historic preservation methods and techniques.

Historic preservation of buildings contributes to minimizing landfill dumping of the sizeable debris when buildings are demolished. It allows the continued use of larger timbers from trees that were first and second growth trees when Harrison County was settled since those timbers are no longer available. 

It saves the past for present and future use. There are many ways to play a role in historic preservation, from helping with social media and technology to hands-on volunteer work to research and/or to actually preserve those places that matter to us all. Some are community-based and some involve more than one Harrison County town's resources.  

If you are interested in helping with this work, learning more about historic preservation, or just curious about how all this works, please contact one of these active historic preservation groups and start your journey as an active historic preservationist. 

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