Sunday, August 29, 2010

Des Moines & Greenfield, Iowa

Sat, Aug. 22nd - Sun, Aug. 29th

Burning the proceeds of a recent storm in our daughter's backyard in Sioux Falls.

Visiting friends in Fairmont, Mn. "City of Lakes". What a pretty town! There are five lakes in town, four of which are connected, so you can boat from one to the other. We had supper at the Channel Inn, which has been mentioned on the food channel on TV.

Saying goodbye and leaving with gifts of tomatoes, cucumbers and more books to keep us entertained for a while. Thanks so much for all the hospitality Mark and Sue, and for supper.

We visited the state capitol in Des Moines on Wednesday. It was completed in 1886 and is the sixth capitol in Iowa, the third since becoming a state and the second to be built in Des Moines. It is the only capitol with five domes.

The central dome is 275 feet above the ground and gilded with 23-karat gold leaf. There are 29 types of marble, 13 types of wood and 1,475 interior steps for a total of 330,000 square feet. The gold leaf is so thin that 250,000 sheets of it is only one inch thick. It was re-gilded about ten years ago.

It took two years to complete and cost $482,000. Inside there is a model of the battleshipUSS Iowa that is 18' 7" long and weighs 1,350 pounds. There is also a display case of dolls representing all the governors wives in their inaugural gowns.

Now that's a library! This used to be the state library, but they ran out of room. So now it is just the Law Library. On election night, CBS broadcasts from here.

We took a guided tour and went up these 132 steps for a view out over the city and the interior of the courthouse below. Whew, what a hike! And the air conditioning didn't get in here either.

This picture is taken from below amd we are next to the windows just below the gold area surrounding the blue sky.

Here is a close-up. You can see John standing by the railing just below the windows.

Another view looking down from above.

Leaving the capitol heading west, we walked about a block to the State Historical Building which was free and very interesting. We had lunch across the street to the south at the Noodle Zoo, which was also very good, but unfortunately not free.

Heading east behind the capitol is the Veteran's Memorial.

This reflection of the capitol building was across the street to the northwest. Kind of cool.

Just a few blocks west of downtown is a very nice sculpture park.

This one was my favorite.
Crouching anonymous figure with a "skin" composed of letters from the Latin alphabet. Individual letters or symbols have no meaning on their own, but blossom into words, thoughts and language when combined with others. A metaphor for human culture in which a person alone has little potential, but when formed into groups or societies, becomes stronger.

Terrace Hill is the Governor's Mansion. It was built by B.F. Allen just after the Civil War at a cost of $250,000. A few years later during the recession of the 1870s, he sold it to F.M. Hubbell for $55,000 to pay off his creditors. It was in the Hubbell family over 70 years and they donated it to the state to use as the Governor's Mansion. The last four governor's families have lived here in a third floor apartment with three bedrooms and five bathrooms. They use the rest of the house for formal functions and entertaining. All of the wood in the house is from Iowa, except for the grand stairway banister, which is Brazilian rosewood. The house is over 140 years old and the banister is the only wood that has been refinished. The hallway and stairway carpets were recently replaced at a cost of $60,000.

These are the gardens behind the mansion.
There was also a carriage house which is now the visitor center and gift shop.

This is the Salisbury House and Gardens. The couple who built it wanted it to look like an old, authentic English Manor. So they used old bricks that were being scrapped when downtown Des Moines redid their streets, roof tiles that were also being scrapped from somewhere and flint rock that was used for ballast in empty ships and then scrapped. They had a boxcar full of the flint rock shipped from the coast. Their only cost for these items was the shipping. They intended not spending over $150,000, but ended up spending $3 million. It is 28,000 square feet with 17 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms and two carriage houses with 7 garage stalls and a basement under one of them to store other machinery including an airplane. They also have 3,000 first edition books in the library. It was built from 1923 to 1928. Then the stock market crashed in 1929 and they couldn't afford to live there anymore. So they donated it to Drake University with the stipulation they could live there until they died. In 1954 she got sick and went to the hospital and he moved into an apartment. At that time the Iowa State Teacher's Association bought it and used it for offices for about 20 years. Now the Historical Society has it and has put most of it back to it's original state. A very interesting tour.

Back at B.L.'s in Greenfield. Seems like everywhere we go John can find something to help out with. He is especially good at leaning on the shovel.
We are heading back to Brookings Labor Day.
Probably no more blogs for about three weeks. I'm on vacation.

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