Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Preview of Leonardo Da Vinci: Man Inventor Genius & Man Artist Genius

On temporary display at the Sioux City Art Center is a few of the pieces that will be part of a larger temporary exhibit. The exhibit is called: Leonardo Da Vinci Man Inventor Genius & Man Artist Genius. It will on temporary display later in 2012 and will include interactive models, computer simulations and art reproductions all based on the works of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Ann Royer: Condemarr, 1994

On display as part of the Sioux Art Center's permanent collection is Ann Royer's Condemarr, 1994:

Oden Abright: Nang Ga - Red

On loan from the Law Offices of Dennis J Mahr at the Sioux City Art Center is a piece by artist Oben Abright called Nang Ga - Red:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tommy Bolin Exhibit

On display in the Temporary Exhibit Hall at the Sioux City Public Museum is the Tommy Bolin Exhibit.

The video slide show portrays the timeline of his life. The music selected for the video is his solo performed when he was with Deep Purple during the live concert at Long Beach, California in 1976. This was one of is last performances with Deep Purple as he tragically died later that year in Miami, Florida.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Woodbury County Courthouse


Before 1853 -   The area was originally named Wahkaw, but when the county was officially organized, it was named after a Supreme Court justice, Levi Woodbury. From New Hampshire, Woodbury served on the Supreme Court for five years until his death in 1851.

1853 - Woodbury County was officially organized with an act of the Iowa legislature.

William Thompson's  little log house at Floyd’s Bluff was selected as the first county seat of the county.

1858 - Sioux City is made the county seat.

1853 to 1873 -  For the first twenty years, Woodbury County’s government did not have a permanent building.  The courthouse offices were scattered in other buildings around town, often in homes.

1875 -  The county voted to build an official courthouse on the southeast corner of Sixth and Pierce.

1878 - With the contract awarded to Daniel and Charles Hedges the new 3 story building was constructed at a cost of $75,000. It was built of Minnesota Kasota stone.  It featured spacious offices, a frescoed courtroom and a jail in the basement.  Decorated with four golden eagles, the Goddess of Justice stood atop the domed corner tower. This courthouse served the county well for many years. However, after the turn of the century, Woodbury County’s growing population dictated the need for larger facilities.

1914 - The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors began to look into the idea of constructing a new courthouse.

June 1914 - Citizens of the county voted in favor of a $500,000 bond issue for a new courthouse. At first, the site of the original courthouse was suggested.

September 1914 - The citizens voted again and decided on the location of Seventh and Douglas streets.  The old courthouse was sold for $231,000 to the Farmers Loan and Trust Company.  The old building was torn down, and the Orpheum Building was later built at that location.

Scores of architects applied to be in charge of the Woodbury County Courthouse project.  Local architect William Steele submitted his gothic revival plan into the limited competition.

January 2, 1915 - The Sioux City Journal announced: “W. L. Steele will draw the plans and supervise the erection of Woodbury County’s new $500,000 courthouse.” Steele assured the board that he would retain the best architects in the county to assist him in drawing the plans.

William Steele was able to convince the supervisors that the Woodbury County Courthouse should be created in a Midwestern or Prairie style rather than traditional gothic architecture.  With their permission, he began to plan a building in the Prairie School style.  He immediately engaged George Elmslie and William Purcell as associate architects.  All three men had worked with architect Frank Lloyd Wright and were heavily influenced by his Prairie School style of architecture. The courthouse design was primarily Elmslie’s, and Purcell oversaw the artists.

Steele, Elmslie and Purcell designed the courthouse to be practical and functional.  They convinced the supervisors that the traditional classic courthouse design did not provide a practical use of interior space.  They planned the interior first, carefully considering the needs of the county.  Then, the exterior design grew out of the interior plan.  The result was that this courthouse would have more functional working space than courthouses build in a more classical style.

Their building design featured two functional parts. The square base contained the offices most used by the public, such as auditor, treasurer, record and clerk. The tower held offices and the law library.

March 23, 1915 - The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors approved preliminary sketches of the courthouse plan.

Opposition to the “modern” design began to arise. Many called the building “radical” or “experimental” and called for a more classical looking building.  A businessmen’s advisory committee, led by merchant Ben Davidson, condemned the structure as an “architectural experiment”.  They preferred granite or Bedford limestone instead of brick.  “Brick for such buildings is used only where the community cannot afford a better and more expensive material.”

The businessmen recommended that the first floor should be lowered to sidewalk level and that the basement be used for storage and mechanical purposes only.  They also wanted to eliminate the tower and add two stories to the building, stating that “The tower design is unusual and extreme”.

“The style of the building, everything considered, runs counter to all precedent, and we cannot believe that public opinion does or ever will approve it….We are firmly convinced that the citizens of Woodbury County prefer a courthouse of ordinary and usual design…”

December 7, 1915 - Despite the protests, the board of supervisors unanimously approved the final courthouse plans.

July 10, 1916 - The cornerstone for the new courthouse was laid.

March 1, 1918 - At a cost of  $850,000 to construct, a little over fifty cents per square foot, the building was ready for business and the dedication took place.

The courthouse, designed in the prairie style, was constructed of Roman brick with a granite base. Elaborate terra cotta trim decorates the exterior.  Above the west doors, an immense figure symbolizes the Spirit of Law.  On each side are figures symbolic of Society under the Law: the old and young, the soldier, the laborer, the father, the mother, the irresponsible and those who have known grief.  Above the figures is written:  “Justice and Peace have met together; Truth hath spring out of the Earth.”
At the west entrance are the figures of a man and a woman holding a child.  They symbolize the family. Above the door are the words “Justice and Humanity”.  The sculptures were the work of Alfonso Iannelli of Park Ridge, Illinois.

The interior of the building is decorated with a series of murals by John Warner Norton. The four murals represent a primitive court, rural farm life, urban life, and a tribute to the soldiers of World War I.  The walls are adorned with intricate terra cotta moldings and sculptured light fixtures. At the center of the two-story base is a beautiful stained glass dome.

1973 - The Woodbury County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Place.

1996 - Designated as a National Historic Landmark.

October 20, 1998 - The building is rededicated.

It is the largest publicly owned prairie school building in the world.

Source and additional information:
Woodbury County Courthouses
Purcell and Elmslie, Architects
Purcell and Elmslie, Architects: Woodbury County Courthouse
Purcell and Elmslie, Architects: more info on Woodbury County Courthouse
George Grant Elmslie to William Gray Purcell (February 9, 1915)
George Grant Elmslie to William Gray Purcell (February 16, 1915)
William Gray Purcell to Gutzon Borglum (February 18, 1915)
Gutzon Borglum to William Gray Purcell (February 20, 1915)
William Gray Purcell to William L. Steele (February 23, 1915)
William Gray Purcell to William L. Steele (February 23, 1915)[separate letter from one above]
William Gray Purcell to George Grant Elmslie (February 23, 1915)
William Gray Purcell to George Grant Elmslie (March 4, 1915) [Lengthy response annotated by Elmslie]
William Gray Purcell to Gutzon Borglum (March 8, 1915)
William L. Steele to William Gray Purcell (March 15, 1915)

Video slide show:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Historic Jackson Street Tour

On Thursday June 14, 2012 Tom Munson, Archive Clerk at the Sioux City Public Museum lead a tour of Historic Jackson Street on the north side of Sioux City. The tour was between 27th and about 31st Streets. There are 17 homes or sites of former homes that stood that have historic significance to Jackson Street and Sioux City, Iowa.

Here are the videos of the tour:

Saturday, June 16, 2012



Before 1918 - The more than a thousand Greeks who had come to Sioux City to work in the meat packing industry would travel to Omaha, Nebraska, 100 miles to the south to attend an occasional church service.

1918 - The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church history begins when the more than 500 Greeks, living in Sioux City, attended a meeting at a Knights of Columbus Hall. Led by Paikos K. Pappaphilipopoulos (who later Americanized his name to Peter Nelson), started a fund drive.

1920 - A corner property near downtown was purchased for $35,000.  The parcel included three houses, one of which they used as a temporary church.

 The first pastor was Fr. Constantinos Harvelas.

Spring 1925 - Designed by William L. Steele, construction of the permanent church began and the cornerstone was laid on Annunciation Day.

September 1925 - Construction of the new church was completed.

October 4, 1925 - Formal dedication took place.

July 1928 - A group of mostly World War I veterans organized Sioux City Chapter 191 of AHEPA under the leadership of George M. Paradise, who went on to become a municipal judge.  They immediately began a campaign to eliminate the church's debt, and purchased $5,000 in bonds that they donated to the parish.

1950 - The church and its parishioners celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Holy Trinity. Bishop Athenagoras Kokinakis of San Francisco visited during the celebration and delegations came from communities throughout the tri-state region.

1950's - This was a a period of progress for Holy Trinity.  Fr. Constantine Hallick, the parish's longest tenured priest, and the board of trustees started the annual church bazaars as a fund-raising source.  The bazaars eventually were replaced by Grecian Dinners which continue to serve as revenue sources.

Today the bazaars are known as Greek Fest.

February 1996 - The dedication and perseverance of the community was tested by a fire which gutted the church's interior.  A sixteen member renovation committee raised the $600,000 needed to restore the interior.  Under the direction and efforts of architect Christ Kamages of San Francisco, iconographer Elias Damianakis of Florida and woodcarver Steve Kavroulakis of Crete, the community acquired a new altar, sanctuary, narthex, iconostasion, and iconography.

1998 - Added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

June 1999 - Metropolitan Iakovos of Krinis, rededicated the church and called Holy Trinity "a jewel of the Midwest."

Today - The church continues to serve as the parish house of worship. It is the oldest Greek Orthodox church building in Iowa and, in physical size, the largest.  Holy Trinity Church is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings and is one of four churches selected by the local museum for its "Sacred History Tour" of the city.

Info Source:
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church History
National Register of Historic Places Information

Slide show and video: