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Eagle Grove continues to preserve history

Town also has new residents, enterprise

February 17, 2013

EAGLE GROVE - As Eagle Grove builds and grows for the future, it is also working hard at preserving its past.

"We have a lot of new people in town," said Rachel Cahalan, executive director of the Eagle Grove Chamber of Commerce. "And we have brought a few new or expanded existing businesses this year."

Cahalan said the Dollar General Store, located on the southern outskirts of the city, will be moving to town this year and into a brand-new building.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Emilie Nelson-Jenson
Bob Bartlett, a volunteer with the Eagle Grove Historical Society points to a photo of the Eagle Grove Museum in its earlier days as a library. The group is working on restoring the former 110-year -old Carnegie Library into a museum.

"They'll be going up right on the main street across from the Family Table," she said. "It will be nice to have them right in town."

One of the newest franchises to set up in Eagle Grove in 2012 was Subway, which was also a community effort, Cahalan said.

"The Subway is something we didn't have before," she said. "It's new to town. The Economic Development Corporation had the land and put up the building to bring Subway in."

'"The town has been good to us," said Jimmy Rokes, manager of the Eagle Grove Subway. "Lots of people are excited that we are here."

With a location on Iowa Highway 17, the new Subway has brought in a lot of out-of-town traffic.

"It's nice to be located on a highway," Rokes said. "It' brings people in who are just passing through."

Being in a community the size of Eagle Grove, Rokes said Subway is able to give back to the community almost as often as the community supports the business.

"We are doing a lot for the community," he said. "We're able to donate a lot of gift cards and things, and we get a lot of support and business from the schools."

The Eagle Grove Historical Society has been hard at work for the past year to preserve the 110-year-old Carnegie Library building which the society calls home.

"We started about three years ago when we got the building," said Colleen Bartlett, a member of the Historical Society. "It had sat empty for more than 20 years and the city wanted to tear it down. It's such a beautiful building, we wanted to save it."

Since taking occupancy in the former library, the group has been working to restore the building to its original state with a modern touch. The roof has been replaced, a new energy-efficient furnace has been installed.

The windows are being replaced one by one with the help of donors, and the interior is getting a fresh coat of paint.

"We were able to get sponsorships for the windows," said Bartlett. The rounded rotunda entryway is in the process of being restored with the help of a grant from the Wright County Charitable Foundation and financial support from Security Savings Bank.

"We are able to do all of this work because of help from the grant and the bank," said Bartlett.

The Historical Society is also partnering with National Honor Society members from Eagle Grove High School to archive all of the museum's contents on computer.

"That way if someone comes in and asks where something is, we will be able to look it up and tell them exactly where to find it," said Bartlett.

The basement of the museum building will also be renovated back to its original block walls and include a meeting room.

"That was one thing about Carnegie buildings," said Bartlett. "They had a separate entrance to a meeting room so clubs could have a place to meet even when the library wasn't open. We'd like to have a meeting space down there."

The sidewalk leading up to the building has also been replaced with personalized bricks bearing the names of donors to the project.

"The bricks have been one of our biggest fundraisers," Bartlett said.

Originally, the Eagle Grove Chamber of Commerce had planned to occupy a portion of the old library building, but accessibility and space was an issue. The Chamber was able to locate in a former medical office just a few doors down from the museum.

"A Chamber member had the building available to us," said Cahalan. "It was handicapped accessible, and basically move-in ready for us other than making a boardroom."



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