Disclaimer: Deb Brown, Executive Director of the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce invited me to spend a day in Webster City as part of the “Six Bloggers on a Saturday” tour. All opinions are my own.
Last weekend, I joined six North Iowan bloggers on a one-hour road trip south to Webster City, Iowa for a bloggers tour. Deb coordinated visits to ten local shops, two historical sites, one restaurant, and a drive through a holiday lights display all within the span of seven hours. I broke kringla with the Mayor and found solace in pottery in Part I. This sequel is all about history. Join me on a photo journey through the Jane Young House & Kendall Young Library. If you’re fond of retro hats and grand, old libraries, this post’s for you.
Jane Young House
It’s hard to believe this huge house has moved twice, but it has. The Jane Young house currently rests next to the Kendall Young Library which seems perfectly fitting.
The Women’s Club occupies the house and offers tours by appointment. JoAnn and Loween. . . errr. . . I mean Jane Young and her maid began the tour by introducing themselves.
Kendall Young was a man who pursued all sorts of adventures in the 1800’s. Originally born in Maine in 1820, he went on to fish off of the coast of Labrador, farm in Wisconsin, and chase the California Gold Rush in covered wagons. Jane described how Young brought his fortune home by tying nuggets into his jacket and pouring gold dust into his boots. His heavy boots made it difficult to walk, so he told others they were specially designed to accommodate his “foot condition.”
Apparently, it worked. No one took his gold and he started a paper business with a friend in Iowa. His path frequently crossed paths with Jane Underdown who he would later marry in Webster City.
Kendall formed Webster City’s First National Bank where he served as President and built the Jane Young house in 1874. unfortunately, he and Jane only lived here together for fourteen years. Jane struggled with her health and moved to Battle Creek Sanitarium where she lived until her death. As Jane’s maid told us about her final chapter of life, she apologized to Jane for speaking about her death in her presence.
I found a display about the Battle Creek Sanitarium particularly interesting. It listed the facility’s other notable patients such as Mary Todd Lincoln and our 29th President Warren Harding. The display also described some of sanitarium’s treatment procedures including electric shock therapy and a chair that violently shook patients.
We had the most fun in the hat room.
The photo below doesn’t even begin to do Jane’s hat room justice. This little room contained rows and rows of fantastic, retro hats.
Of course, we had to try them on.
Other rooms contained period pieces. I especially liked these big, heavy trunks equipped to hang clothes.
Kendall passed away in 1896 and willed his estate to Webster City for the purpose of establishing a public library. This came as a surprise to many, as he had once declined a library fundraising request from a woman named Theresa Treat replying, “the ladies would never be able to raise enough money for a proper library.” I suppose we never really do know what kinds of seeds we are planting in other people’s minds.
At the end of the tour, we bid our lovely tour guides adieu and headed next door to visit the library.
The Kendall Young Library
I love libraries. I practically spent my childhood at the library where I would take home bags of books which I poured over by flashlight long after my parents called lights’ out. The Kendall Young Library is majestic. Thanks to the Young’s generous donation (and those from many others), the public library continues to be funded without government support.
When we first entered the library, we gazed upwards in wonder. “It’s an oculus!” Amy gleefully exclaimed.
“Is that like an eye?” I asked?
Children’s Librarian Angie was thrilled to give us a quick tour even though we arrived near closing. I felt like I was at Hogwarts wandering between these grand rows of library shelves.
The children’s department is located on the bottom floor. We found it magically decorated with a tree trunk embedded into the wall and a Christmas tree adorned with a sparkly gum drop garlands. The librarians add special touches throughout the department to make young people’s visits extra special. Patrons can find bookmarks crafted by local seniors at the front desk, plus a basket of plastic book bags the librarians carefully fold into tiny triangles.
A large room dedicated to children’s programming is also located downstairs. It’s equipped with sinks for craft projects and blank walls for projecting movies. On the way out, we admired the the Lego Club’s creations. I was especially fond of May’s Cafe.
The library also houses a collection of 170 dolls and Native American artifacts. For more information about library programming, visit their Facebook page which staff frequently update.
Coming up next:
A post about meat cutlets & a recipe for my weeknight chicken parmesan & Webster City Part III: Shopping & lunch at Grid Iron Grill. The Every Bar in Mason City Quest will resume soon!
Special thanks to JoAnn Robb and Loween Getter, our lovely tour guides of the Webster City Women’s Club and Angie Martin-Schwarze of the Kendall Young Library.