Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Early July Update: Barn Dance, Social Saturday night

First of all, please join us this Saturday evening, July 17, from 7 p.m. until about 8 or 8:30 p.m. for a free ice cream social and barn dance on the museum campus at 123 North 17th Street in Chariton. If the skies are clear, the event will be held on the patio just north of the barn; in case of threatening weather, we’ll move inside the barn. But the dance/social will be held rain or shine.

Ed Sellers and Dorothy Mason are coordinating the music/dancing end of the operation. Dancers will demonstrate their skills and elementary instruction will be provided for those interested. A little two-stepping and/or waltzing may be thrown in for good measure. Free ice cream will be served to all comers. Seating will be provided.

It sounds like a lot of fun and if you’ve always thought you might be interested in square dancing, and there’s a lot of it going on in these southern hills, this could be a good introduction. If you don’t want to dance, just come and watch and enjoy ice cream. Museum buildings will be open during the event.


The Lucas County Historical Society Board of Directors held its regular July meeting Tuesday in the commons area of the John L. Lewis Building. Nothing earth-shaking was on the agenda, but preliminary plans for the last public event on the 2010 museum calendar, scheduled for September, were discussed.

That event originally was scheduled to include grand opening of the new blacksmith shop, but extreme wet weather continues to delay that project (work is under way now on drainage around the building and that must be completed before interior work begins), so other plans will be made. The weather also is delaying the early-maturing corn planted for a husking bee, so that event may have to be scratched or postponed, too. We'll keep you posted.

The board also approved the purchase for $3 each of surplus stacking chairs from the Senior Center. These chairs will be kept permanently in a storage area of the barn and will serve as seating during public events held in the barn or on the adjacent patio. Currently, chairs must be hauled down to the barn or patio from the Lewis Building, then back again, every time an event is held there.


A NEW SIGN: As noted here earlier, the newest addition to the museum campus is actually a block south --- a shiny new sign pointing the way north from West Court Avenue to the museum on top of the hill. The sign was donated by Dave Rich of Chariton TrueValue Hardware. It replaces an older redwood sign with inscribed lettering that was difficult to read and tended to blend into the landscape. The new sign, larger and in sharp black and white that matches other museum signage, leaves no doubt among those who drive by about where the museum is. We sincerely appreciate the gift and the board also passed a resolution of thanks Tuesday morning.

THE WEATHER: In case you’ve heard weather reports and wondered, the museum campus has remained safe on its high and dry hilltop in west Chariton despite some tremendous storms this spring and early summer, including one last week that dumped more than three inches of rain in less than an hour last on Chariton and caused flooding along Court Avenue at the base of our hill. So we continue to be grateful that Andrew Jackson Stephens chose a hilltop for his new house back in 1908 and that society organizers picked its secure location when choosing a museum site in 1965.

THE WINDMILL: The windmill has now been fully reassembled at its new location just west of the barn and board members involved in that project are waiting for a stretch of clear days so that fresh paint can be applied to its steel base. Once that happens, the windmill will be ready to be pulled upright and bolted to its new base. Hopefully it will dry out a little soon so that this project can be completed.

THE BLACKSMITH SHOP: Jeff Tordoff and a few of his students, working on a contract basis after the close of the school year, completed the exterior of the new blacksmith shop during June so the building now is fully enclosed, looks great and is ready to be finished inside --- a project that will be undertaken by board members using funds provided by a recent South Central Iowa Community Foundation grant. This is another project that requires dry weather, so keep your fingers crossed. Currently, weather conditions are delaying drainage work around the experior of the building, necessary before finishing work begins inside.


Remember that the museum is open daily from 1 to 4 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday, ready to welcome guests. We’ve already had a gratifying number of visitors and would love to see you, too.

Our guests have ranged from members of the CHS class of 1960, in town for their 50th reunion, who paid us a visit as a group on a recent Saturday morning, through individuals, couples and families who discovered us via Iowa tourism publications and Web sites and just stopped in to visit.

If you can’t be here when the museum is open officially, we’ll be glad to try to accommodate you at other times. Just send us an e-mail ( or give us a phone call (641-774-4464) to work out the details.

If you visit, remember that parking --- including handicap-accessible spots --- is available next to the Lewis Building. Just drive into the north entrance of the circle drive and come on around. You’re also welcome to park along Seventeenth Street at the front of the campus if you prefer to walk in through the grounds.

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