Monday, May 3, 2010

Iowa City, Hoover, Amana & Amish

April 22, 23 & 24

Original Iowa capitol at Iowa City. The capitol was later moved to Des Moines and the building was given to the university. They planned their campus around it, four buildings built out from it in each direction. It was originally referred to as the "Five Spot" and later changed to the more dignified "Pentacrest". It has a reverse free-standing staircase. There are only two in the country.

It was a very cold, rainy and windy day and the apple blossoms falling made it look like it was snowing in this sculpture garden on campus.

This is one of the sculptures in the garden, entiltled "Dorothy".

Just a few miles south of Iowa City is Riverside, the birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. For all of you Trekkies out there, they have the Voyage Home Museum and an annual Trekfest with further information to be found at

Also, near here is President Hoover's birthplace and museum at West Branch. This is the museum.

The graves of Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, are at the top of this hill overlooking the museum and his birthplace. In keeping with the Quaker ideal of simplicity, there is no presidential seal or inscription, just their names and their birth and death dates.

This is the two-room home built by his father and grandfather where he was born. In the background you can see the blacksmith shop where his father worked, just next to the schoolhouse.

Hoover was a Quaker and this is the meeting house where they would gather and sit in silence for hours waiting for the spirit to touch someone and inspire them to speak and share their thoughts.

This statue of "Isis", the Egytian goddess of life, is on the grounds near the museum. It was sculpted by a Belgian artist and given to Hoover by the children of Belgium to thank him for his efforts in saving the country from famine during WWI. He was president during the stock market crash of '29 and the dust bowl and was unfairly blamed for the bad times. He left office very unpopular, but was later put in charge of famine relief after WWII by President Truman. He oversaw famine relief in 56 countries and kept millions from starving. There is a tear jerker video in the museum interviewing people who can remember what it was like when they were children and what his efforts meant to them.

This is the woolen mill (1857) at the Amana Colonies. All of these bobbins of yarn are feeding into the warp creel machine at the back. The machinery here reminded me of some of the old slitters I used to run at 3M. There are seven small villages on 26,000 acres with cabinet shops, meat shops, bakeries, wineries, brewery and all sorts of arts and crafts. They also have music festivals and a renaissance festival. I think John just wanted to go for the home-cooked meal, which was very good. The communal way of life here lasted 89 years until 1932. Due to economic pressures and dissatisfaction with the rigid communal system, the old system was set aside and a new, profit-sharing joint stock corporation was formed known as the Amana Society.

In Kalona, Iowa there is the Historical Amish and Mennonite Museum. I always thought the Amish and the Amanas were the same thing, but they have nothing to do with each other. The Amanas are called the "Inspirationalists". Many of the barns in the area have quilt blocks painted on them. I read somewhere that quilt designs were used for signaling on the underground railroad for where the slaves were to go or when it was safe for them. We met about six or seven Amish buggies late Sunday afternoon. They must have been leaving a church meeting.

This is a shot of a neat building in West Branch.

This is an awesome old home in the area. I think I have an architecture fetish.


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