Famous Houses of Southwest Iowa

One thing that I’ve really liked as I’ve been exploring Iowa is the fact that most of the State’s cities and towns have some thing, place or fact by which they define themselves, and they’re generally pretty good about letting you know what it is. Welcome signs, historical markers, street names, and other approaches make it easy to just roll into a town and figure out what you need to look at while you’re there.

I did a day trip down to the Southwest corner of the State yesterday, taking my counties visited tally to 89 (out of 99), and saw several houses of historical note, most the birthplaces of legendary entertainers, but one the site of perhaps the most infamous cold case in Midwestern history. I visited the smallest incorporated community in Iowa yesterday, and even there, I learned something impressive from the signs and markers erected by its citizens. I also saw an absolutely incredible WPA/CCC mural in a post office, praising Iowa’s most famous export. Here are some highlight shots:

Birthplace of John Wayne, Winterset, Iowa.

Birthplace of Johnny Carson, Corning, Iowa.

The Villisca Ax Murder House: eight people were bludgeoned to death in their sleep here in 1912. The case was never solved. The house is available for overnight stays now, for those interested in the macabre.

Amazing post office mural, Mount Ayr, Iowa. This one is worth clicking to enlarge, as it is an extraordinary work of art, merging populism with surrealism in quite unique ways.

Pensive barn under big prairie skies.

Birthplace of Glenn Miller, Clarinda, Iowa.

Downtown Beaconsfield, Iowa, population 15. The smallest incorporated community in the state is, remarkably, the home of Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson, and also the location of the very first Hy-Vee grocery store. Wow!

3 thoughts on “Famous Houses of Southwest Iowa

    • GREAT link, Rob . . . . I’ve been in a lot of those towns, and wish I’d visited their post offices now!! It’s interesting how many of them were clearly built on the same plan, with the murals above the Postmasters’ Office and bulletin boards . . .

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