September 15, 2010

What Does it Mean to Rehab Green? by Steve Thomas

Don't forget that you can attend the Key Note Address by Steve Thomas on Saturday Morning at the Middle School Auditorium for only $10.00.  Tickets are available on line now under "registration" or will be sold Saturday morning at the door.  Don't miss out on this great opportunity. 

September 14, 2010

National Register of Historic Places : Did you know...

...that through the efforts of several local groups and individuals, the community of Red Oak, IA has 9 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Vintage Red Oak recently had an opportunity to photograph one of the more recognizable National Register Properties in Red Oak; The Montgomery County Courthouse.  Thanks to a great facilities manager, we got to see some areas not normally seen by the general public.  Below is a slide show of this great building, including areas not normally seen such as the bell tower, and roof structure.

Montgomery County Courthouse Facts:
  • November 1, 1889, Approved by the supervisors.
  • Cost not to exceed $75,000.00
  • Architect was H.C. Koch and Co.
  • Contractor was Richards and Co.
  • Winning bid was $69,200.00
  • July 4, 1890, the cornerstone was laid.
  • July 1891, the contractor experienced financial problems and quit working.
  • August 1891, Jesse Tate was secured as the superintendent of construction at a salary of $5.00 per day.  He arranged with sub contractors to finish the building.
  • March 2, 1892, the building was completed and dedicated.
  • March 1917, the building was wired for electricity.
  • 1976, the original slate roof was replaced, building was tuckpointed, and storm windows were added.
  • July 1981, the courthouse was entered in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • November 1984, the elevator was installed.
  • The most memorable trial ever held in the courtroom was that of George Kelley, who was a suspect in the Villisca Axe Murders.  No conviction was obtained.

What Is the National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

What We Do
  • Review nominations submitted by states, tribes, and other federal agencies and list eligible properties in the National Register.
  • Offer guidance on evaluating, documenting, and listing different types of historic places through the National Register Bulletin series and other publications.
  • Help qualified historic properties receive preservation benefits and incentives.
  • Manage the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Program that transfers historic federal light stations to new owners.
  • Sponsor the Cultural Resources Diversity Program to diversify historic preservation and cultural resource management.

Other National Register Properties in Red Oak include:

CB Q Railroad Depot
S. 1st Street

Red Oak Public Library
400 N. 2nd Street

Thos. D. Murphy Company Factory and Power Plant
110 S. 2nd Street

Hebard House
700 N. 8th Street

Osborne House
1020 Boundary Street

Montgomery County Courthouse
2nd and Coolbaugh Streets

Montgomery County Jail
100 W. Coolbaugh Street

Chautauqua Park
Summit Street and Red Oak Blvd.

Red Oak Firehouse and City Jail
318 E. Washington Ave.

September 12, 2010

Celebration of city and education about historic preservation; focus of September event

Vintage Red Oak has received some great press lately.  Click on the title above to see the original article from the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil.  For your convenience, I have copied the article below.

By Mike Brownlee, Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 2:18 PM CDT
RED OAK – It’s easy to say that history must be preserved. But how?

That’s the question presenters and demonstrators will tackle at Vintage Red Oak, an event celebrating the southwest Iowa town and historic preservation Sept. 17 through 19.

“It’s about preserving our history and our heritage,” said Dave McFarland, executive director of the Montgomery County History Center, which will play host to some of the events.

Vintage Red Oak is a joint effort of the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Red Oak Historic Preservation Commission and will serve as the state’s annual historic preservation conference.

Seminars and presentations will take place at the Montgomery County History Center, on site at historic buildings in Red Oak and other sites around town.

The keynote speaker at the event is Emmy Award-winner Steve Thomas, the host of “Renovation Nation” on cable channel Planet Green and the former 14-year host of “This Old House,” the home improvement series on PBS.

Thomas’ speech, slated for 9 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 18 at Red Oak Middle School, is titled, “What Does it Mean to Rehab Green?” and will focus on environmentally friendly building restoration practices.

The event’s other seminars on historic preservation include titles like “Making Historic Properties Accessible,” “Why Old Buildings Matter,” “Rehabilitating Historic Storefronts,” and “Financial Incentives and Funding Options.” McFarland will give a presentation on the history of Red Oak.

Vintage Red Oak will also feature entertainment, including silent movies at the Chautauqua Pavilion, a guided cemetery walk and an old-time gunfight reenactment.

“There’s a great lineup of seminars and entertainment that we hope will bring many people into our city to show them what we have to offer,” said Jodie Smith, chamber specialist for the Red Oak Chamber and Industry Association.

Smith noted that the restoration seminars will help Red Oak and communities like it continue to restore and refurbish downtown areas.

“Unfortunately a lot of towns’ downtown districts are getting older. And with new (building code) rules and regulations, we need to know what to do with historic preservation,” Smith said. “These types of seminars will be a lifeblood for communities with aging
downtowns and teach them what needs to be done to restore.

“We can’t just let the buildings sit vacant because people don’t know how to restore them. Need to teach these skills so the buildings can remain a vital aspect of the town.”

Smith said she expects about 200 to 250 people to come to Red Oak for the event.

Registration to attend the seminars is $35 in advance, $45 the day of. Most of the entertainment is free. For more information go to

Red Oak’s annual tour of Victorian homes will also occur as part of Vintage Red Oak. The town features 12 Victorian homes, according to McFarland.

McFarland said the tour has been moved to September after traditionally being held around Christmas to take advantage of better weather.

Included among the homes will be the former domiciles of Thomas D. Murphy and Edmund Osborne, who teamed in the late 1800s to create the first calendars featuring art.

“That all started here in Red Oak,” McFarland said of the type of calendar typical in the United States today, featuring art on top and the month and days on the bottom.

“History is the life of a community,” Smith said.

September 10, 2010

Next Committee Meeting : Tuesday September 14th, 2010

The next planning meeting will be Tuesday September 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm at the Montgomery County History Center.

September 6, 2010

Home Tour : Sunday September 19th, 2010

The homes on this years Victorian Home Tour are below.  Tickets are only $10 and are available at the door.  Tour hours are 12-4 pm with the Victorian Tea at the History Center from 1-5 pm.

810 E. Corning Street - 1896 Colonial Revival

Thos. D. Murphy House -  Colonial Revival This house was built for Thomas D. Murphy and his wife, Ina Culbertson Murphy.  It was extensively remodeled in 1941. Before her marriage, Ina Culbertson taught piano in Harlan, IA  and then was a teacher at the Indian Mission school in Chamberlain, S. Dak.  Thos. D. Murphy joined Edmund Osborne in 1888 as publisher of the Red Oak Independent.  The two produced the first advertising art calendar, using a woodcut of the new Montgomery County Courthouse.  Osborne left Red Oak in 1899 to establish a similar business in New York.  In 1905 Murphy founded The Thos. D. Murphy Co., making Red Oak known as "the birthplace of the art calendar".  The business became a major industry in Red Oak, with hundreds of employees and salesmen and a branch in London. Murphy also continued as publisher of The Red Oak Express.  Tom and Ina traveled extensively through Europe and the United States, and the many travel books he wrote were well received.

 1020 Boundary Street - 1897 Neo-Classical
 This magnificent home was built for Edmund Osborne, business partner of Thomas D. Murphy. Osborne and Murphy teamed together in many endeavors, such as printing, newspaper publishing, and the advent of the art calendar. However, Osborne left Red Oak in 1899 for the east coast where he later founded another printing company and became involved in politics and government.
The revival of classical architecture and details were sparked by styles shown at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The dominant gabled roof of this home is supported by paired, Ionic columns, on top of a raised brick foundation. Together the two-story columns and the classic pediment on the raised foundation accentuate the visual impact of the front facade. The smaller second floor decorative balcony, another Neo-classic detail, further adds distinction to the front entrance. The three windows at this second floor balcony are original to the home. The front door has been altered twice as it was originally a set of French doors with beveled glass and side lights. The original back porch was open, and that porch has been altered several times. The current owners removed the struggling back porches (then two of them) and replaced them with a single enclosed porch incorporating architectural details from an early photograph of the original porch. The sides of the house remain unchanged.
The staircase remains intact, however, it has been altered at the base. One fluted column on the staircase and four smaller fluted columns at the fireplace mantel remain the same. The fireplace mantel has green ceramic tile surrounding the opening, and two leaded-glass windows on either side of the fireplace, original, as seen in an old photograph. Classical swag and rosette patterns adorn the stairway, door and window entablatures (top moldings).

805 E. Prospect - 1917 Georgian Revival

Located on Red Oak’s Heritage hill tour, this Colonial Revival was built in 1917 for William and Myrtle Cochrane, who was the sister to Thomas D. Murphy, founder of the Thos. D. Murphy Calendar Company. The Cochranes passed the home to their daughter Anna Lomas and husband Malcolm, who then passed it on to their grandson Peter VanDruff. The Murphy Calendar company was an important part of Red Oak’s history and the art calendar industry. William Cochrane later owned the company and passed it to his son-in-law, Malcolm Lomas. It then was run by his son-in-law Bruce VanDruff and later by his son Peter VanDruff. William Cochrane served in the Iowa state senate. Daughter Anna Lomas was a Republican National Committee-woman and Mrs. Barbara Bush once greeted guests inside the grand entrance. The family kept ponies in the backyard and gave pony rides to neighborhood children. They often allowed them indoors where they performed circuses for Grandma and Grandpa Lomas. Apparently the housekeeper suggested the circus performances be moved to the front lawn instead. The home remained in the family until being purchased in 2006 by current owners, Kevin and Kerry Hohbach. The home itself is a work of art, with it’s beautiful woodwork and built-ins on all three levels. It is said that some of the wallpaper was specially designed to replicate designs found in the White House. It has been featured in several publications including “The Iowan” and “Portraits of Iowa: Volume II” and is credited with being one of Red Oak’s finest homes.

909 E. Coolbaugh Street - 1870's Russian Victorian
Built in the 1870's, this beautiful Russian Victorian is one of the oldest residences in Red Oak. Purchased in May of 2005 by Dale & SueAnn French, this stately home has been painstakingly preserved with most of its period details intact, from its gorgeous Turkish turret outside to its tiled fireplaces, unique seraglio (embossed) panels beneath the windows & inlaid parquet floors inside. The home also boasts a state-of-the-art kitchen complete with quartz counter top & warm, inviting tones. The current owners feel truly blessed to have rescued this incredible piece of Red Oak history & are excited about finishing the detailed front porches as well as the attached garage.  

700 N. 8th Street -1874 Italianate
This wonderful example of Italianate architecture was built by Col. Alfred Hebard in 1874. Hebard was captivated by the beauty of the valley of the Nishnabotna River. He was responsible for the establishment of the depot and the town of Red Oak Junction. Hebard went on to serve as a territorial legislator and, in 1889, represented Iowa as a U.S. Commissioner to the Paris World’s Fair.
The Hebard estate sold the house to then County Attorney Floyd E. Billings, in 1932. The house had suffered as it stood vacant for many years and was in dire need of restoration. Mr. Billings undertook the effort to preserve the unique structure. His daughter, Lois Boeye, and her husband John then lived in the home until their son, John Boeye Jr., purchased the home in 1995. John, his wife Jenny & their two daughters are proud to say that this home has been in their family for almost 80 years.
The home’s exterior features include heavy brackets under the eaves and label molds over the windows. Inside is said to be a “textbook” example of Italianate with its totally symmetrical blue prints (all supporting walls line up from the basement to the third floor). The fireplaces are said to be modeled after those found in the White House. Portraits of Col. & Mrs. Hebard still hang in the home.
As well as being named to the National Register of Historic Places, the home was also featured on HGTV’s “If Walls Could Talk” in October of 2006.

$35 Conference Registration Extended to September 16th, 2010

We have extended the $35 early conference registration to September 16th, 2010.  You can register on-line via Pay Pal for this event.  See our registration page.  Conference registration the day of the conference will be $45.00. is limited.

September 3, 2010

Next Committee Meeting : Thursday September 9th, 2010

The next planning meeting will be Thursday September 9, 2010 at 7:00 pm at the Montgomery County History Center

August 13, 2010

Next Committee Meeting : Tuesday August 24th, 2010

The next planning meeting is scheduled 7:00 pm August 24, 2010, at the Montgomery County History Center

August 1, 2010

Next Committee Meeting : Tuesday August 10th, 2010

The next planning committee meeting will be 7:00 pm on Tuesday August 10, 2010 at the Montgomery County History Center.

July 19, 2010

Next Committee Meeting : Tuesday July 27th, 2010

The next planning meeting for Vintage Red Oak will be held at the Montgomery County History Center on Tuesday July 27th, 2010 at 7:00 pm.

July 14, 2010

The Ten Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation

The ten Secretary's of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation are to be applied to specific rehabilitation projects in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility.
1.         A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.
2.         The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.
3.         Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.
4.         Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.
5.         Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a historic property shall be preserved.
6.         Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated be documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.
7.         Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible.
8.         Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.
9.         New addition, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.
10.       New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such manner tat if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.
Key Points
As stated in the definitions of the Treatments of Historic Properties the treatment "rehabilitation" assumes that at least some repair or alteration of the historic building will be needed in order to provide for an efficient contemporary use; however, these repairs and alteration must not damage or destroy materials, features or finishes that are important in defining the building's historic character. For example, certain treatments—if improperly applied—may cause or accelerate physical deterioration of historic building. 

This can include using improper re-pointing or exterior masonry cleaning techniques, or introducing insulation that damages historic fabric. In almost all of these situations, use of these materials and treatments will result in a project that does not meet the Standards. Similarly, exterior additions that duplicate the form, material, and detailing of the structure to the extent that they compromise the historic character of the structure (confusing the viewer with what is historic and what is new) will fail to meet the Standards.

This information was reposted for the State Historical Society of Iowa's Web Site.  You can find the original page here.

July 5, 2010

Next Committee Meeting : Tuesday July 13th, 2010

The next planning meeting for Vintage Red Oak will be held at the Montgomery County History Center on Tuesday July 13th, 2010 at 7:00 pm.  We are two and a half months from the event and there are many things to be done before then. Hope you can attend, and bring anyone that might have an interest.