Library marker

Shown standing next to the historical building marker at the Oskaloosa Public Library after installation are: Kody McCabe, Freddy Aguilar, and Mike Cooper of Mefford Masonry who donated the installation of all the historical markers for the project.

Ann Brouwer, steering committee member of the volunteer, community-based Historical Building Marker Project, said due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, a ceremony and presentation will be held at a later date.

“We look forward to hosting a ceremony to recognize and celebrate this historical Oskaloosa building when it is safe to gather,” she said.

The Oskaloosa Public Library which opened its doors to the public in 1903, recently received a historical building marker that was installed on the left column of the library’s entrance.

According to a news release, library volunteer researchers Nancy Brown and Diana Pearson will present a power point at the future ceremony to highlight library historical facts and pictures taken of the building throughout the century.

The library was built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The words “FREE” above the original entrance on the east side of the library is a clue that this is one of 1,689 Carnegie Libraries in America.

Julie Hansen, who was the library board president when the 1997 new addition project began, will share her memories of the sizable undertaking and will exhibit the three awards the library received post construction. Other quirky historical facts will be presented by the project’s steering committee member and research team leader, Calvin Bandstra.

Brouwer said the library is the eighth of 10 historical markers being placed in Oskaloosa. The Oskaloosa Fire Station, Mahaska County Courthouse, the Iowa Building, Trolley Place, Centennial Block, Frankel Building, and the Iowa Masons Benevolence Society Building have already had historical markers installed on their building’s façade.

According to the news release, each historical marker includes the year the building was built, pictures of the building through the years, and a few interesting and fun facts to appeal to community members and visitors.

A link to a webpage hosted by the Oskaloosa Area Chamber and Development Group, https://www.oacdg.org/history, is included on each marker. Here, people can find a more in-depth history of the building.

Brouwer explained that the webpage is maintained at the Chamber so there is a community institution in place to help preserve this history for the future. It is a work in progress and more information is being added as it is acquired.

“The people who inhabited these buildings are as much or more a part of the building’s story as is the brick and mortar,” Brouwer said. “We encourage anyone with photos of the building or information on the occupants throughout the years to help us add to the documented history.”

Historical Building Marker Steering Committee Member Sherry Vavra said via news release many volunteers from throughout the community collaborated to make the historical markers possible.

Clow Valve poured and donated the brass sign holder which is in the shape of the Oskaloosa Band Stand. The donated pattern for the mold was developed by Tom Stone from Musco Sports Lighting. Mefford Masonry continues to donate their services to install the historical markers and Lyle Siefering of Mahaska Title is providing the “chain of ownership” on each building for the chamber website.

Vavra said that in addition to the volunteer researchers who stepped up to uncover the history of these buildings, countless others have helped make the project a success by donating their time and talent.

“We must give special recognition to Mahaska Historical Society President John Jacobs for all of his assistance and to Julie Hansen, who located many historical building pictures for the project’s markers and the website,” Vavra said.

Those who would like more information or have information to share about the historical buildings in Oskaloosa, contact Brouwer at 641-660-8075 or Vavra at 641-660-7504.

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