Iowa State University


Lynette Pohlman, University Museums, (515) 294-3342
Marilyn Vaughn, University Museums, (515) 294-3342
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- One of Iowa State University's most historic and familiar landmarks may soon get some much needed repairs, thanks to the generosity of many.

In the last six months, supporters of Iowa State's Farm House Museum have contributed $175,000 toward an exterior conservation of the building. The 1860s house, the first building at Iowa State and home to the first faculty, needs $320,000 in repairs to preserve it for the future.

Contributions came from more than 70 ISU alumni, former faculty and museum supporters, along with commitments of university funds from President Martin Jischke and David Topel, dean of agriculture. The top three private donors are Ames residents Ferne Felton, and John and Dorothy McNee, and Jacqueline Andre Schmeal and her husband, W. Richard, of Houston, Texas.

"Just as the ISU community came together to build this house, they have united again to ensure that the Farm House Museum continues to connect us with our pioneer past and campus history," said Lynette Pohlman, director of University Museums. However, the building's restoration hinges on whether University Museums can raise the remaining funds, she said.

The Farm House became a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and a museum in 1976. The interior was restored in the 1970s and remains in good condition. The building's exterior, however, needs extensive work to repair damage brought on by age and weather, said Pohlman. Martin Weaver, an architectural consultant, detailed the damage in a lengthy report released in June 1997.

In the report, funded with a $10,000 gift from the McNees, Weaver warned that peeling stucco, an old roof and crumbling bricks must be replaced to prevent further deterioration. He also pointed out problems with the basement, west and south porches and foundation on the south side. These problems could be remedied and weren't unusual for a more than century-old structure, Weaver added.

"This has been a rewarding fund-raising project," said John Pace, coordinator of the Farm House conservation drive and a Friends of University Museums board member. "It's clear that many people care about the Farm House Museum and what it means to Iowa State. I feel confident that we will realize our final goal and the Farm House will be preserved for all of us and for future generations."

The Farm House Museum has a broad base of support from people living throughout the country, Pohlman said. Often the ties are personal. Jacqueline Andre Schmeal actually lived in the Farm House before it became a museum. She moved to the Farm House in 1949 when her father, Floyd Andre, was appointed ISU dean of agriculture.

Iowa State is proceeding with plans to submit the conservation project to the state board of regents. Pending regents approval and the completion of the fund-raising drive, the project could begin as early as next spring, with completion in fall 1998.

President Jischke will honor contributors to the Farm House Museum conservation fund at a holiday tree lighting ceremony scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 5:15 p.m. in front of Beardshear Hall. Following the tree lighting, the president and his wife, Patty, along with Pohlman and Pace, will then greet visitors during an open house at the Farm House Museum, which is located directly north of Knoll Road. The public is invited to both events.

The Farm House Museum conservation fund-drive is part of Campaign Destiny: To Become the Best, the largest fund-raising effort in ISU history. Conducted by the ISU Foundation and launched in September 1996, the campaign is nearing $200 million of its $300 million goal.


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