Preservation’s own, Jim Wilcox, reports on his biking adventure:
During RAGBRAI XLIV 2016 ((Des Moines) Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa 44 ) July 24-30 I stopped into some of the small town public libraries in the pass through towns. Now I haven’t been to all the small town libraries yet having only done the ride 34 times so far but here are a few from this year.
Early in the week was a stop at the Villisca Public Library, population 1252 according to the 2010 Census. A building built in 1908 with only updates to mechanical systems and the addition of an elevator. A Carnegie Library that cost $10,000 to build and furnish (books not included).
You may have heard of Villisca for another reason, the still unsolved ax murder of 8 people while they slept on the night of June 10, 1912. http://www.villiscaiowa.com/index.php
Another stop during the week was at the Humeston Library, population 494 from the 2010 Census. A town founded in 1872 it is within ¼ of a mile halfway between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
“With the increasing demand for technology and neutral gathering space for the community, the space became too small to hold a thriving and growing library. In August of 2003 the Library Board of Trustees began a building fund in anticipation of someday building a new building to house the library. With tremendous community support of that vision, the library opened in its new spacious location on April 26, 2008”
Humeston Library, 2008
On to Moravia, population 665 from the 2010 Census. ” Moravia is named for the religious faith. Moravian families left Salem, North Carolina in 1849 to start a colony in the west. Money was sent to purchase forty acres of land for a town site by several benevolent Moravian sisters. It was their wish that town lots be sold and the money be used to build a Moravian Church. The families made the long journey to Iowa and acquired many acres of land. “
“The Moravia Public Library was established in 1941. It is situated in the center of the Moravia City Park and serves as a hub in the community. In 1980 there was an addition built on the south side of the building. This addition serves as a meeting place for several civic organizations, reunions, receptions and houses displays of crafts and foods during the annual Moravia Fall Festival. In 1984 the Library was enlarged and renovated by volunteer labor, then again in 2001 the Library was increased in size by approximately half the original size. It’s now 2,200 square feet.”
Moravia Library, the front porch was being used as a stage, something that has been done there for a long time. The building was moved to its current location by horse power and steam tractors when the school was built
Inside the Moravia Library
Nice mural in the Moravia Library
“The Moravian star originated in Saxony, Germany, in the two towns of Niesky and Kleinwalka in the 1830s. The stars were used as craft projects to help demonstrate geometry lessons to young boys attending Moravian school. The stars were quickly adopted by the Moravian Church as a symbol of the birth of Jesus and represented the star of Bethlehem. Traditionally, the star is hung the first Sunday of Advent and remains up until Epiphany, January 6, or the time of the coming of the Magi.”