OSKALOOSA—One of Mahaska County’s treasured landmarks is getting a facelift.

Work is now underway to complete several structural renovations, including the roof and south porch, for the Daniel Nelson House at the Nelson Pioneer Farm and Museum.

Margaret Spiegel, director/curator for the Nelson Pioneer Museum, said that after a successful fundraising campaign to secure the resources for the project, the time has come to do the work.

Last fall a hole was discovered in the roof of the Nelson home that had been caused by a squirrel. That discovery led to a full building assessment last November. Spiegel said the committee appointed by the board for that assessment has also been asked to make a larger assessment across the rest of the property and establish a 5 to 10 year plan.

“The focus of that original assessment was structural integrity and public safety, and those are still our priorities even today,” said Spiegel.

Records showed that the full roof had last been replaced in 1964 when the home was first renovated and opened to the public.

After the full assessment a fundraising strategy was formulated, including seeking donors and grants. The first donation came from the Golden Goose in Oskaloosa last December, in the amount of $10,000.

“That donation really got a lot of momentum going with the community fundraising project,” said Spiegel. “We also sought grant funds from the George Daily Family Trust, and now the bare minimum fundraising goal amount has been obtained.”

The additional funds raised from private donations are now also being used for the renovation project. Chimney flashing is also getting replaced, and Speigel said tuck pointing was completed last fall.

Since the original roof replacement in 1964, there have been various minor repairs as well, but the roof itself is now 55 years old. That ‘s generally a typical lifespan of a cedar wood shingle roof if you take into account normal weathering and typical wildlife damage.

The Nelson home was originally completed in 1853, but the three porches weren’t added on until around 1900. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the barn, back in 1974.

There had been discussion about replacing with asphalt shingles instead of cedar wood, but the decision was made to use cedar wood to preserve the same look as the original roof because the building is a national landmark.

Spiegel has done a lot of research in the National Park Service historic briefs that describe how to do wood roof replacement. She found many of the resources that the board considered for the Nelson home renovations.

There are six other smaller buildings on the farm with cedar wood shingles, including the schoolhouse.

Van Weeldon Construction and Bayer Construction from Sully have been contracted to do the work. The crew of six plan to complete the project by the end of October.

“Education and preservation is all part of our mission here at Nelson Pioneer Farm and Museum, and this is all part of that preservation aspect that we take pride in here,” said Spiegel.


On Monday, Nov. 18 at Bradbury Hall there will be a membership quarterly and volunteer appreciation event. A private meal is scheduled to be served at 6:30 for guests, and at 7 p.m. it will be open to the public. Linda McCann will showcase her book entitled Prisoners of War in Iowa.

On Sunday, Dec. 8 at Bradbury Hall, Wartime Christmas Coffee Time will feature board games, crafts, music, coffee, tea, hot cocoa and desserts.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/NelsonPioneerFarm/

Staff writer Richard Rindt can be reached at rrindt@oskyherald.com

Recommended for you