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.