Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Town Craft in Perry, Iowa.........


The building sits on the corner of 2nd and Willis Street in Perry, Iowa.  It was built in the early 1900's. The photo shows the building in the 20's.  As you study the photo, notice the Fords and that the upstairs windows are open.  I was told that the upstairs was an office area for lawyers to do business in the town. The bank building was eventually sold to another locally owned company,  Brenton Bank, and it remained so until it's closing 20 years ago as a new building was created on a new site near there. 

My wife and I spent a few days in the restored building doing an art show call  "Art on the Prairie" in the upstairs part of the old bank. 



The Iowa State University was involved in the redevelopment and design of the bank building and the adjacent building was also included in the project.  This is the model that students and  architecture instructors designed for it's renovation.    Notice the clock that has been put back on the building.  It was not original to the building but the bank must have added it in the 1930's. They named it the Town Craft to symbolize what had been done to restore and refresh the two buildings.


This is the photo of the restored two buildings today.  On my other blog, Larry's Creative Zone, you can see photos of the inside of the second floor of this building.


The story is complicated but I want to share with you how renovation of the two building of the Town Craft were financed.  The photo above is the Hotel Pattee, named after the brothers who first built the building in the early 1900's..   It sits on the same block down the street to the west.  The person who financed it all started by restoring this gutted building.  She turned it back into a grand hotel and then continued down the street continuing the  restoration of many more buildings in the area.

Roberta Green Ahmanson, a 1967 graduate of Perry High School,  and her husband, multimillionaire philanthropist Howard Ahmanson Jr., have financed dozens of various causes. They live in California but Roberta bought a Victorian house in Perry so that she could supervise the projects here in Iowa. Many buildings in a two block area were all financed by them.  A Carnegie Library where she worked as a young woman was one that was restored.

I always like to know the rest of the story and where the Ahmanson made their money is an interesting one. How this California couple and their money made it to Perry, Iowa.

Mr. Ahmanson was in the family line that created all the water distributions to southern California.  I don't remember the name of the movie that was made which had a plot that centered around the wheeling and dealing that were done. Millions of dollars were made from that business venture. If I find out the name of the movie, it included the name China in it, I will correct this posting. Yes, Chinatown was the name of the movie.

The Ahmanson's are known for there kind giving and the Town Craft project was the second or third renovation venture after the Pattee Hotel. I was told that much of the money was trust money that they were required to spend. The Hotel Pattee was completely recreated from nothing for 11 million dollars.

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11 comments:

Karen said...

This was interesting, Larry. I love the old storefront buildings around the city square that we still see here in Indiana. God bless you.

Liz Stratton said...

Amazing renovation. I love to see these old buildings restored to their former glory. They have so much more character than steel and glass buildings.

Postcardy said...

I googled "movie about southern california water" and found:
Chinatown, a 1974 film that features a fictionalized version of the California Water Wars.

I think I saw that movie, but I don't remember it.

tony said...

A Handsome Building.It always Makes Me Sad When An Old Building Is Knocked Down To Be replaced my something so often inferior.Your post is a testament to renovation.

Bob Scotney said...

You must be proud to have been involved with this. We lose too many buildings replaced by 'modern' monstrosities.

Alan Burnett said...

Buildings can be as efficient means of time travel as family history, as you so stylishly demonstrate. Great Sepia post, Larry. I remember seeing Chinatown when it first came out : is it really that long ago!

imagespast said...

Interesting post, Larry, and good to hear about preservation and renovation rather than demolition. Jo

Little Nell said...

So much better to preserve and renovate. A bit of you own history to be proud of.

Karen S. said...

Oh great story! That first photo is so impressive...the building itself, the cars and the happy lady happily leaving it....

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Oh the history that you covered and the span of time and $$. How interesting that she wanted to do work back in Iowa; I can imagine it felt more like home to her than CA even with all that $$. Interesting to read.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Larry, this is very interesting. I love it when old buildings are restored and taken care of. I have been scrolling down and enjoying your other recent posts too. Great job!

Thanks for your visit,

Kathy M.