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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Friday, November 11, 2011


A year ago a student made this graphic display of his classmates of 2010.  The faces really are not much different than the past except the clothing has changed and the modern problems are different too.

The faces really do look the same as you view the ones of the 60's and the 30's. A cousin's little girl sits with a smile while my Aunt Doris stands straight with her great looking dress.  My parents are dressed in their morning everyday clothes ready to start the day in our old farmhouse.

More faces from the classes that my mom taught while she was in her late teens early twenties.  The years of teaching started in 1937 and as you can see the faces seem the same.  They could be modern people today even though the form of the picture tells us otherwise.

People who wanted a memory of themselves and the event in their lives hold themselves so still for the camera for it to capture their image.

My grandmother Brooks was so proud of all her things that she made to sell.  This is as close to a smile that she ever put out for a camera.

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