Iconic Places

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Dodger Stadium stands as one of the most impressive high school outdoor sports facilities in the state. A vision of Board of Education President O.C. Pfaff, Dodger Stadium was the product of FDR's Works Progress Administration which put millions of unemployed to work in the wake of the Great Depression, constructing public buildings and roads.

Work began on the stadium in 1939 with workers using 385,000 salvaged bricks from the fire-destroyed Lincoln Junior High building on the corner of First Avenue North and Tenth Street. With an additional 60,000 bricks from a demolished soybean plant, two permanent spectator stands were constructed, as well as Pfaff's recommended 1O-foot high wall around the perimeter of the property. The total cost of the facility was $150,000.

The football stadium was dedicated October 4, 1940, when the Fort Dodge Dodgers played rival Boone and won the contest, 13-7.

With permanent seating for 5,000, Dodger Stadium has been the host site for both St. Edmond High School and Iowa Central Community College football teams, Dodgers’ boys and girl’s track and soccer teams and state marching band competitions.

Dodger Field/ J.H. Nitzke track has been host for the Dodger Relays and other boys and girl’s track and field meets since 1940. Although running surfaces have changed and school records broken, it remains a prime location for invitational and other large events. During the summer 2010, a new track timing system was installed allowing district meets to continue at the stadium. In 2016, the all-weather track was re-surfaced offering an outstanding venue for regional track meets.

The adjacent tennis courts, also part of the original plan, are continuously used for school and community tennis meets. New tennis courts were completed in 2010, then resurfaced in 2019.

The Dodger Baseball Field, designed by renowned hitting coach, Lew Fonesca, resembles a miniature version of the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field with its brick ivy-covered outfield walls. The inaugural game played on Dodger Baseball Field was on April 9th, 1942, when the Chicago White Sox played an exhibition game against their rival, the Chicago Cubs. An estimated 8,500 fans — from five states and 75 Iowa counties came and watched that memorable game. That still stands as the largest crowd for an athletic event in Fort Dodge history. In 1993, in honor of the longtime and legendary coach who produced a number of great teams, the baseball field was renamed Ed McNeil Field.

But there’s much more to Dodger Stadium than footballs, baseballs, soccer balls and track cleats used by thousands of athletes over the years.

Each May since shortly after the stadium was built, Fort Dodge Senior High has held graduation ceremonies for its seniors and their families inside the stadium. An estimated 25,000 seniors have taken part over those years.

The Stadium is host to the FDSH Band Invitational there and the state band tournament in the fall, the North Central Area for Special Olympics Iowa Track and Field event; the National Guard, State Patrol and Fort Dodge Police Department use it for physical training testing and youth tackle football games are played in the legendary stadium on weekends in the fall.

From 1946 to 1959, an event called The Harvest Festival was held in Dodger Stadium. The three-day festival featured performances by the Karl King Band and featured circus-like acts, motorcycles racing around in a cage, horses diving into a small pool of water and fireworks. In 1947, an estimated 35,000 people attended the festival over the course of three days.

Improvements and upgrades to Dodger Stadium have helped keep it one of the iconic sporting venues in Iowa. The west press box was renovated to include separate booths for the press and scouts, scoreboard operators and coach-to-bench communications. A second floor video-taping station assists both the athletic and marching band programs. In 2008, the sod/natural grass on the football field was replaced with new, state-of-the-art synthetic turf (field turf) to improve the quality and durability of the playing field. A new football scoreboard was installed in 2010.

Continued improvements to Ed McNeil Field include a digital scoreboard in 1994, new batting cages, lights were installed in 2015, which now allowed for night games and the latest addition has been an elevated, permanent grandstand with seating for up to 300 people, along with improvements for the concession stand and press box.

Dodger Stadium is not only an iconic and renowned sporting venue, but also a significant piece of Fort Dodge history and source of great pride for the community.

Source: Fort Dodge Senior High School Alumni Directory 2013

Source: The Messenger. “If Dodger Stadium bricks could talk…” July 2, 2017

Today, Dodger Stadium continues to be recognized as one of the most iconic and beautiful high school stadiums in Iowa.

*The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was an ambitious employment and infrastructure program created by President Roosevelt in 1935, during the bleakest years of the Great Depression. Over its eight years of existence, the WPA put roughly 8.5 million Americans to work. Perhaps best known for its public works projects, the WPA also sponsored projects in the arts – the agency employed tens of thousands of actors, musicians, writers and other artists.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the WPA with an executive order on May 6, 1935. It was part of his New Deal plan to lift the country out of the Great Depression by reforming the financial system and restoring the economy to pre-Depression levels. The unemployment rate in 1935 was at a staggering 20 percent. The WPA was designed to provide relief for the unemployed by providing jobs and income for millions of Americans. At its height in late 1938, more than 3.3 million Americans worked for the WPA. Source: www.history.com





HISTORY
Bennett Viaduct

1910

The 1,492 foot long bridge connected the two sections of Fort Dodge; at 3rd Street, then going west across the Des Moines River and connecting at G Street in “West” Fort Dodge.

viaduct 4.jpg
Blanden Art Museum

1932

920 3rd Ave S

The Blanden Memorial Art Museum was constructed in 1932 as the first art museum in Iowa in the Historic Oak Hill District.  Charles Blanden donated the funding to build the museum. 

Blanden fall photo.jpg

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Dodger Stadium stands as one of the most impressive high school outdoor sports facilities in the state. A vision of Board of Education President O.C. Pfaff, Dodger Stadium was the product of FDR's Works Progress Administration which put millions of unemployed to work in the wake of the Great Depression, constructing public buildings and roads.

Work began on the stadium in 1939 with workers using 385,000 salvaged bricks from the fire-destroyed Lincoln Junior High building on the corner of First Avenue North and Tenth Street. With an additional 60,000 bricks from a demolished soybean plant, two permanent spectator stands were constructed, as well as Pfaff's recommended 1O-foot high wall around the perimeter of the property. The total cost of the facility was $150,000.

The football stadium was dedicated October 4, 1940, when the Fort Dodge Dodgers played rival Boone and won the contest, 13-7.

With permanent seating for 5,000, Dodger Stadium has been the host site for both St. Edmond High School and Iowa Central Community College football teams, Dodgers’ boys and girl’s track and soccer teams and state marching band competitions.

Dodger Field/ J.H. Nitzke track has been host for the Dodger Relays and other boys and girl’s track and field meets since 1940. Although running surfaces have changed and school records broken, it remains a prime location for invitational and other large events. During the summer 2010, a new track timing system was installed allowing district meets to continue at the stadium. In 2016, the all-weather track was re-surfaced offering an outstanding venue for regional track meets.

The adjacent tennis courts, also part of the original plan, are continuously used for school and community tennis meets. New tennis courts were completed in 2010, then resurfaced in 2019.

The Dodger Baseball Field, designed by renowned hitting coach, Lew Fonesca, resembles a miniature version of the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field with its brick ivy-covered outfield walls. The inaugural game played on Dodger Baseball Field was on April 9th, 1942, when the Chicago White Sox played an exhibition game against their rival, the Chicago Cubs. An estimated 8,500 fans — from five states and 75 Iowa counties came and watched that memorable game. That still stands as the largest crowd for an athletic event in Fort Dodge history. In 1993, in honor of the longtime and legendary coach who produced a number of great teams, the baseball field was renamed Ed McNeil Field.

But there’s much more to Dodger Stadium than footballs, baseballs, soccer balls and track cleats used by thousands of athletes over the years.

Each May since shortly after the stadium was built, Fort Dodge Senior High has held graduation ceremonies for its seniors and their families inside the stadium. An estimated 25,000 seniors have taken part over those years.

The Stadium is host to the FDSH Band Invitational there and the state band tournament in the fall, the North Central Area for Special Olympics Iowa Track and Field event; the National Guard, State Patrol and Fort Dodge Police Department use it for physical training testing and youth tackle football games are played in the legendary stadium on weekends in the fall.

From 1946 to 1959, an event called The Harvest Festival was held in Dodger Stadium. The three-day festival featured performances by the Karl King Band and featured circus-like acts, motorcycles racing around in a cage, horses diving into a small pool of water and fireworks. In 1947, an estimated 35,000 people attended the festival over the course of three days.

Improvements and upgrades to Dodger Stadium have helped keep it one of the iconic sporting venues in Iowa. The west press box was renovated to include separate booths for the press and scouts, scoreboard operators and coach-to-bench communications. A second floor video-taping station assists both the athletic and marching band programs. In 2008, the sod/natural grass on the football field was replaced with new, state-of-the-art synthetic turf (field turf) to improve the quality and durability of the playing field. A new football scoreboard was installed in 2010.

Continued improvements to Ed McNeil Field include a digital scoreboard in 1994, new batting cages, lights were installed in 2015, which now allowed for night games and the latest addition has been an elevated, permanent grandstand with seating for up to 300 people, along with improvements for the concession stand and press box.

Dodger Stadium is not only an iconic and renowned sporting venue, but also a significant piece of Fort Dodge history and source of great pride for the community.

Source: Fort Dodge Senior High School Alumni Directory 2013

Source: The Messenger. “If Dodger Stadium bricks could talk…” July 2, 2017

Today, Dodger Stadium continues to be recognized as one of the most iconic and beautiful high school stadiums in Iowa.

*The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was an ambitious employment and infrastructure program created by President Roosevelt in 1935, during the bleakest years of the Great Depression. Over its eight years of existence, the WPA put roughly 8.5 million Americans to work. Perhaps best known for its public works projects, the WPA also sponsored projects in the arts – the agency employed tens of thousands of actors, musicians, writers and other artists.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the WPA with an executive order on May 6, 1935. It was part of his New Deal plan to lift the country out of the Great Depression by reforming the financial system and restoring the economy to pre-Depression levels. The unemployment rate in 1935 was at a staggering 20 percent. The WPA was designed to provide relief for the unemployed by providing jobs and income for millions of Americans. At its height in late 1938, more than 3.3 million Americans worked for the WPA. Source: www.history.com





City Square and Gazebo

1851

The “Square” has been a gathering place since Fort Dodge was first settled.  In the year 1851, the square extended down to what is now 3rd Street and the area was used as a parade ground for the garrison of soldiers who were stationed at the nearby fort that was located north of the Square. 

city square.jpg

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The Ringland/Smeltzer House was built in 1903 by George Ringland. Ringland was a founder of U.S. Gypsum and held the patent for improving plaster. This patent contributed to the growth of the gypsum industry and changed the nature of building construction.

The house, located on the corner of South 12th Street and 2nd Avenue South in the historic Oak Hill District, was designed by Chicago architect Solon Spencer Beman. Beman was the foremost American church architect of his time and one of the founders of the American Institute of Architecture. Beman designed a home for the Ringlands that exhibited Jacobethan Revival architecture, which featured unique brickwork, tall chimneys, multiple gables and rectangular window frames with leaded glass panes. Beman moved to Chicago when he was offered a commission to design the town of Pullman, Illinois, the company town for the Pullman Railroad Car Company. Included among his most noteworthy buildings were two major buildings in the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, the Fine Arts/ Studebaker Building in downtown Chicago and the Mother Church of Christian Science in Boston.

The original style of the home comes from the English manors of the early 16th century reign of James I. This style achieved some popularity between 1895 and 1920 but is relatively uncommon in Iowa. It exists more frequently in educational buildings than in residential structures. The only other local example is the Phillips Middle School, formerly the Fort Dodge Public High School, constructed in 1922.

In Fort Dodge, the Beman firm also designed the Christian Science Church, now the Hawkeye Community Theatre (521 N. 12th Street), and the Roberts/Deardorf house (1414 3rd Ave. South) in the Oak Hill Historic District. The Ringland/Smeltzer House is also significant as part of the Oak Hill District, a four block district placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1977. The district consists of 15 homes which together reflect the changing architectural styles of the post-Civil War period, 1870-1910, and the prosperity and optimism which dominated in Fort Dodge during its golden era.

The styles of homes in the district include French Second Empire, East Lake, Queen Anne, Craftsman, Jacobethean Revival, and Prairie, a virtual showcase of the architectural evolution of that period. Each family sought to outdo the neighbors in size, quality and elegance of their home, reflecting on the local level the “conspicuous consumption” ethic of America’s “Gilded Age.” The Ringland/Smeltzer house reflects the zenith of the local development.

The Oak Hill District, which was originally the southeastern edge of the city, included the homes of the community’s business leaders and leading citizens. Among its residents were a U.S. senator, an inspector for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Iowa’s state printer, the director of the U.S. Mint, the president of U.S. Gypsum Company, the publisher of the local newspaper, and most of the city’s early bankers and entrepreneurs.

Beman’s plans for the house are dated May 13, 1902 but the contract for its construction was not let until September 3, 1903. The contractor was the W. J. Zitterell Company of Webster City, one of the largest and best known construction companies in northern Iowa during this period. The contract price was $25,000; $6,000 of which went just for plumbing and heating. There are no other buildings remaining in Fort Dodge that are associated with the family. Records and newspaper accounts make no mention of any out-buildings on the grounds. The lack of a carriage house may be explained by the fact that Ringland’s downtown office was located on Central Avenue in close proximity to the city’s largest livery stable. Likewise, with the advent of the automobile, it might have been expected that the family would have added a garage, but Ann, even in later years, never had the inclination to do so and kept her automobile outside all year long.

There appears to have been no formal attempts at landscaping at the time of its construction although over the years shrubs and trees were obviously added. Ann, the last member of the family, was less interested in formal gardens than she was in a more natural state.

Over the years there have been few changes in the house, either internally or externally, or the grounds, with the exception of the removal of the main entrance porch on the north side of the house. In 2008 this porch was restored to its original appearance.

The house is important locally because the Ringland/Smeltzer family played a significant role both economically and culturally in the history and development of both Fort Dodge and North Central Iowa. From the very first years of settlement in the 1850s until the end of the twentieth century and the death of Ann Smeltzer, the last member of the family, the Ringland-Smeltzer family was a foundational family of Fort Dodge. The house epitomizes the industry and success of its owners and the Fort Dodge community. It is important nationally because George Ringland was an entrepreneur whose patent for the improvement of plaster contributed to the growth of the gypsum industry and changed the nature of building construction. Ringland was also one of the founders of one of the nation’s leading corporations in the building industry, the U.S. Gypsum Company.

Jeannie Ringland Smeltzer was a cultural leader in the community. Under her, the Smeltzer house became a cultural center of the community. Concerts were held in the third floor ballroom and featured nationally recognized musicians. In addition to her music school, Mrs. Smeltzer operated a private school for local children in the home’s third floor ball room as an alternative to the public schools. In developing the curriculum she consulted and worked with Dr. A. A. Berle, America’s first and foremost advocate of and innovator in home schooling at a time that the movement was first attracting popular attention.

Over the years, the daughter of Charles and Jeannie Smeltzer, Ann, acquired many renowned pieces of art which later became part of the Blanden Art Museum’s permanent collection. The Ringland/Smeltzer Home continues to display many pieces of valuable art throughout the house.

Today, the Ringland/Smeltzer House is used for many events. Musical performances in the living room, dinners in the dining room, meetings, showers and wedding receptions are some of the events held in the home. The furniture is original to the home and there are over 5,000 books in the home, many are signed first editions.

Ann Smeltzer, who never married, was a very strong supporter of the community, both personally and civically. She would often allow the neighborhood children to play in her third floor ballroom. This was quite generous of her, because between the three houses to the south of hers, there were eighteen children! The neighborhood children would roller-skate in the ballroom and would perform plays on its stage for the neighborhood.

With the death of Ann Smeltzer in 1999, the property came under the control of the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust which maintains the home as a house museum. It stands today as a reminder of a period in which Fort Dodge flourished and the contributions that the Ringland/Smeltzer family made and continues to make to the community through its charitable trust.

The Ringland/Smeltzer House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a property that is associated with the lives of a person or persons significant in the past whose activities are demonstrably important within a local, state and national context. George Ringland, who built the house, and his family, clearly met the requirements on both the local and national level.

The Ringland/Smeltzer house was a family home; when Ringland’s daughter, Jeannie, married Charles Smeltzer, a banker and land manager, the couple and their daughter Ann lived with Jeannie and Charles all their married life in the home.

Sources:

*https://www.smeltzertrust.org/

*Des Moines Register

*Photos: Ryan Paschke





Dodger Stadium

1939

Dodger Stadium stands as one of the most impressive high school outdoor sports facilities in the state.

dodger stadium 1.jpg

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Dodger Stadium stands as one of the most impressive high school outdoor sports facilities in the state. A vision of Board of Education President O.C. Pfaff, Dodger Stadium was the product of FDR's Works Progress Administration which put millions of unemployed to work in the wake of the Great Depression, constructing public buildings and roads.

Work began on the stadium in 1939 with workers using 385,000 salvaged bricks from the fire-destroyed Lincoln Junior High building on the corner of First Avenue North and Tenth Street. With an additional 60,000 bricks from a demolished soybean plant, two permanent spectator stands were constructed, as well as Pfaff's recommended 1O-foot high wall around the perimeter of the property. The total cost of the facility was $150,000.

The football stadium was dedicated October 4, 1940, when the Fort Dodge Dodgers played rival Boone and won the contest, 13-7.

With permanent seating for 5,000, Dodger Stadium has been the host site for both St. Edmond High School and Iowa Central Community College football teams, Dodgers’ boys and girl’s track and soccer teams and state marching band competitions.

Dodger Field/ J.H. Nitzke track has been host for the Dodger Relays and other boys and girl’s track and field meets since 1940. Although running surfaces have changed and school records broken, it remains a prime location for invitational and other large events. During the summer 2010, a new track timing system was installed allowing district meets to continue at the stadium. In 2016, the all-weather track was re-surfaced offering an outstanding venue for regional track meets.

The adjacent tennis courts, also part of the original plan, are continuously used for school and community tennis meets. New tennis courts were completed in 2010, then resurfaced in 2019.

The Dodger Baseball Field, designed by renowned hitting coach, Lew Fonesca, resembles a miniature version of the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field with its brick ivy-covered outfield walls. The inaugural game played on Dodger Baseball Field was on April 9th, 1942, when the Chicago White Sox played an exhibition game against their rival, the Chicago Cubs. An estimated 8,500 fans — from five states and 75 Iowa counties came and watched that memorable game. That still stands as the largest crowd for an athletic event in Fort Dodge history. In 1993, in honor of the longtime and legendary coach who produced a number of great teams, the baseball field was renamed Ed McNeil Field.

But there’s much more to Dodger Stadium than footballs, baseballs, soccer balls and track cleats used by thousands of athletes over the years.

Each May since shortly after the stadium was built, Fort Dodge Senior High has held graduation ceremonies for its seniors and their families inside the stadium. An estimated 25,000 seniors have taken part over those years.

The Stadium is host to the FDSH Band Invitational there and the state band tournament in the fall, the North Central Area for Special Olympics Iowa Track and Field event; the National Guard, State Patrol and Fort Dodge Police Department use it for physical training testing and youth tackle football games are played in the legendary stadium on weekends in the fall.

From 1946 to 1959, an event called The Harvest Festival was held in Dodger Stadium. The three-day festival featured performances by the Karl King Band and featured circus-like acts, motorcycles racing around in a cage, horses diving into a small pool of water and fireworks. In 1947, an estimated 35,000 people attended the festival over the course of three days.

Improvements and upgrades to Dodger Stadium have helped keep it one of the iconic sporting venues in Iowa. The west press box was renovated to include separate booths for the press and scouts, scoreboard operators and coach-to-bench communications. A second floor video-taping station assists both the athletic and marching band programs. In 2008, the sod/natural grass on the football field was replaced with new, state-of-the-art synthetic turf (field turf) to improve the quality and durability of the playing field. A new football scoreboard was installed in 2010.

Continued improvements to Ed McNeil Field include a digital scoreboard in 1994, new batting cages, lights were installed in 2015, which now allowed for night games and the latest addition has been an elevated, permanent grandstand with seating for up to 300 people, along with improvements for the concession stand and press box.

Dodger Stadium is not only an iconic and renowned sporting venue, but also a significant piece of Fort Dodge history and source of great pride for the community.

Source: Fort Dodge Senior High School Alumni Directory 2013

Source: The Messenger. “If Dodger Stadium bricks could talk…” July 2, 2017

Today, Dodger Stadium continues to be recognized as one of the most iconic and beautiful high school stadiums in Iowa.

*The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was an ambitious employment and infrastructure program created by President Roosevelt in 1935, during the bleakest years of the Great Depression. Over its eight years of existence, the WPA put roughly 8.5 million Americans to work. Perhaps best known for its public works projects, the WPA also sponsored projects in the arts – the agency employed tens of thousands of actors, musicians, writers and other artists.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the WPA with an executive order on May 6, 1935. It was part of his New Deal plan to lift the country out of the Great Depression by reforming the financial system and restoring the economy to pre-Depression levels. The unemployment rate in 1935 was at a staggering 20 percent. The WPA was designed to provide relief for the unemployed by providing jobs and income for millions of Americans. At its height in late 1938, more than 3.3 million Americans worked for the WPA. Source: www.history.com





Fort Dodge High Bridge

1901

One of the most massive bridges in Central Iowa crosses high above the Des Moines River and a neighborhood in Fort Dodge. 

high bridge 3.jpg

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The Young Woman's Christian Association was organized July 8, 1909. Mrs. John P. Dolliver was the first president and served until October, 1910, when she resigned and Mrs. George Ringland was elected president. The work was conducted for a time in the frame building just north of the Commercial National Bank building on Central Avenue. In the fall of 1909, the Reynolds property on the corner of First avenue north and Ninth street was purchased, and became the home of the YWCA, and is still there today. At the time of buying the location, $13,000.00 of the purchase price was raised by subscriptions, of which $10,000.00 was paid for the site. Later the lot adjoining on the west was purchased at a cost of $4,500.00. On January 17, 1913, the mortgage on the YWCA building was paid. An event celebrating the “burning of the mortgage” was held on January 21, 1913 with Dr. Sarah Kime in charge of the ceremony.

The three-story building was designed to house permanent and transient women. With dorm style private housing throughout, residents shared kitchen, laundry, bath and lounge space. The building also included club rooms and a gymnasium with showers. Thirty-six rooms were available for rent by women coming into the community for education and employment.

The directors at that time were: Mrs. George Ringland, president; Mrs. J. I. Rutledge, first vice president; Mrs. E. H. Williams, second vice president ; Mrs. W. H. Blakely, corresponding secretary ; Mrs. Charles Findlay, recording secretary, and Dr. Sarah Kime, treasurer. The remaining board of directors included Mesdames Anna Beatty, W. H. Blakely, C. V. Findlay, J. F. Russell, E. H. Williams, D. M. Woodard, George H. Williams, F. B. Olney, G. L. Lindquist, and Phillip Dorr.

During the year 1912-13, there were 126 girls were enrolled in YWCA programs. By 1930, the membership of the YWCA totaled 700 women. From 1915 to 1943, the YWCA Cafeteria served 3 meal daily. Meals were provided a nourishment for low income and transient women and for the women living at the Y. The cafeteria continued serving meals until 1961. During its peak of operation, the YWCA Cafeteria was recognized as a social center for motorists and the traveling public.

Nationally, since its beginnings in the 1860’s, the YWCA has advocated for women’s economic advancement, empowerment, health, fitness and well-being, education and leadership development. In Fort Dodge, YWCA programs and offerings have evolved with the changing needs and interests of women and girls in the area. Early classes and clubs involved “working girls.” The YWCA began the Fort Dodge Business and Professional Women's Club, the Fort Dodge Business Girl's Club, and the Young Adult Club. The woman's movement saw great participation by the Girl Reserves in Fort Dodge, and most notably the Black Girl Reserves. From their inception, YWCA programs have been visionary -- encouraging every woman and girl to perform at her maximum level to achieve self-sufficiency, maintain healthy habits, empower herself and work toward resolving racial justice issues.

The YWCA has served thousands of women and children in its 100+ years in Fort Dodge, and will continue to serve for many years to come. Today, the YWCA Center for Life Empowerment operates a Licensed Residential Treatment Center for women. The Center is a state licensed substance abuse treatment facility, which functions to provide clinically managed residential treatment for women and women with children. The organization also provides intensive and extended outpatient care both females and males. Treatment is directed toward applying recovery skills, preventing relapse, promoting personally responsibility, skills, and reintegrating the resident into the world of work, education, and family life.

The YWCA supports and directs clients by offering guidance in all aspects of their recovery. It encourage a comprehensive approach to goal setting, development of life skills, physical and mental health, employment, vocational or education enrichment and family support. The YWCA remains dedicated to empowering women and women with children by supporting their recovery and reunifying their families.





Harlan Rogers Park

1967

1628 Nelson Avenue

Harlan and Hazel Rogers Ball Park  is one of the best athletic and recreational facilities in the state. In 1967, Harlan and Hazel Rogers donated the land for the baseball and softball diamonds at Rogers Sports Complex which now host the Iowa High School Girls Softball Tournament.

harlan rogers 1.jpg

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The Young Woman's Christian Association was organized July 8, 1909. Mrs. John P. Dolliver was the first president and served until October, 1910, when she resigned and Mrs. George Ringland was elected president. The work was conducted for a time in the frame building just north of the Commercial National Bank building on Central Avenue. In the fall of 1909, the Reynolds property on the corner of First avenue north and Ninth street was purchased, and became the home of the YWCA, and is still there today. At the time of buying the location, $13,000.00 of the purchase price was raised by subscriptions, of which $10,000.00 was paid for the site. Later the lot adjoining on the west was purchased at a cost of $4,500.00. On January 17, 1913, the mortgage on the YWCA building was paid. An event celebrating the “burning of the mortgage” was held on January 21, 1913 with Dr. Sarah Kime in charge of the ceremony.

The three-story building was designed to house permanent and transient women. With dorm style private housing throughout, residents shared kitchen, laundry, bath and lounge space. The building also included club rooms and a gymnasium with showers. Thirty-six rooms were available for rent by women coming into the community for education and employment.

The directors at that time were: Mrs. George Ringland, president; Mrs. J. I. Rutledge, first vice president; Mrs. E. H. Williams, second vice president ; Mrs. W. H. Blakely, corresponding secretary ; Mrs. Charles Findlay, recording secretary, and Dr. Sarah Kime, treasurer. The remaining board of directors included Mesdames Anna Beatty, W. H. Blakely, C. V. Findlay, J. F. Russell, E. H. Williams, D. M. Woodard, George H. Williams, F. B. Olney, G. L. Lindquist, and Phillip Dorr.

During the year 1912-13, there were 126 girls were enrolled in YWCA programs. By 1930, the membership of the YWCA totaled 700 women. From 1915 to 1943, the YWCA Cafeteria served 3 meal daily. Meals were provided a nourishment for low income and transient women and for the women living at the Y. The cafeteria continued serving meals until 1961. During its peak of operation, the YWCA Cafeteria was recognized as a social center for motorists and the traveling public.

Nationally, since its beginnings in the 1860’s, the YWCA has advocated for women’s economic advancement, empowerment, health, fitness and well-being, education and leadership development. In Fort Dodge, YWCA programs and offerings have evolved with the changing needs and interests of women and girls in the area. Early classes and clubs involved “working girls.” The YWCA began the Fort Dodge Business and Professional Women's Club, the Fort Dodge Business Girl's Club, and the Young Adult Club. The woman's movement saw great participation by the Girl Reserves in Fort Dodge, and most notably the Black Girl Reserves. From their inception, YWCA programs have been visionary -- encouraging every woman and girl to perform at her maximum level to achieve self-sufficiency, maintain healthy habits, empower herself and work toward resolving racial justice issues.

The YWCA has served thousands of women and children in its 100+ years in Fort Dodge, and will continue to serve for many years to come. Today, the YWCA Center for Life Empowerment operates a Licensed Residential Treatment Center for women. The Center is a state licensed substance abuse treatment facility, which functions to provide clinically managed residential treatment for women and women with children. The organization also provides intensive and extended outpatient care both females and males. Treatment is directed toward applying recovery skills, preventing relapse, promoting personally responsibility, skills, and reintegrating the resident into the world of work, education, and family life.

The YWCA supports and directs clients by offering guidance in all aspects of their recovery. It encourage a comprehensive approach to goal setting, development of life skills, physical and mental health, employment, vocational or education enrichment and family support. The YWCA remains dedicated to empowering women and women with children by supporting their recovery and reunifying their families.





Laramar Ballroom

1920s

710 1st Ave N

For the thousands who frequented the ballroom over the years, the brick building with loft seating that rings the wooden dance floor holds many special memories.

laramar 1.jpg

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In 1844, the first YMCA was opened in London, England, by George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker who was troubled by how many young men in London were coping with the hazards of life on the streets. This first YMCA offered something unique for its time.

In the United States, the first YMCA was founded in Boston, MA. by a retired Boston sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan. Sullivan noticed a similar need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by the stories of the YMCA in England, Sullivan led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston on December 29, 1851.

With so many young men moving to cities from rural areas, YMCA housing was started in the 1860’s for the purpose of giving these young men safe and affordable lodging and opportunities for recreation so they could have a healthy release from their difficult lives. Facilities included gyms, auditoriums and hotel-like rooms. Chicago’s Farwell Hall, the first known YMCA dormitory, was completed in 1867. Between 1922 and 1940, YMCA accommodations grew from approximately 55,000 rooms to more than 100,000, more than any hotel chain at the time.

In Fort Dodge, a group of Fort Dodge businessmen organized a YMCA and was incorporated it in 1891. The first location (unknown) had a fire in January of 1892. The YMCA then lease a few rooms over C.E. Black’s meat market. In February of 1892, John Parsons offered one of his lots for a new building. A campaign for a new YMCA began but only $2,000 was raised and the project never got off the ground. In July 1894, a special meeting was held to discuss renting rooms in George W. Mason’s building, above Craft’s grocery store, located at the corner of Central Avenue and 9th Street. The rooms would be used a reading and lecture rooms and a room for games. A shower and tub baths would also be added to the location. These new rooms were opened in August of 1894.

In November of 1897 -with the need for more space, the board members of the YMCA agreed to lease the 2nd and 3rd floors of the new Sanderson Building that was nearing the completion for being built. Sanderson Building was located one door east of the Post Office on Central Avenue, (today this would be on the 900 block on Central Avenue). The new building was being built for the Sanderson Candy Factory, which later become the Fort Dodge Candy Factory. The YMCA officially opened its doors in the Sanderson Building in February of 1898. This new site provided five rooms on the second floor; Director’s room, two reading rooms, the secretary’s office and a game room. On the third floor, there was 51 x 39 ft. gymnasium with gallery seating for 70 people and five bath rooms. The rooms of the second floor were also used for socialization and meetings for prayer. F.A. Garrison was the board president. J.G. Early was the board secretary. Other charter board members included E.H. Rich, C.W. Ackerman, C.H. Smith, S.A. Smith, L.L. Leighton, C. Craft, W.U. Turpin, E.E. Prusia, E. Berschein, T.H Wright, J.F. Nelson, J.J. Rutke, T.E. Deereaux, and F. Gates.

In September of 1909, O.M. Oleson, a renowned Fort Dodge businessman and philanthropist, announced that he would be donating property for the location of a new building for the YMCA . The location would be on north side of 1st Avenue North and North 6th Street, across the street from the former Fort Dodge Carnegie Library.

In October, a group of Fort Dodge business leaders led a fundraising campaign to raise $70,000 to build a new YMCA building. Ten days later on November 5, 1909, it was announced that over $76,000 had been raised or pledged for the new building. The preliminary floor plans for the new YMCA included:

* Sub-basement: locker rooms with bath/shower rooms, swimming pool, and bowling alley

* First floor: offices, parlors, reading and recreation rooms, 45 x 78 foot gymnasium with a raised running track above gymnasium and a cafeteria

* Second floor: dormitories, educational department and a large room/ banqueting hall which may be cut into smaller class rooms when needed.

* Third floor: more dormitories, which will be one of the chief sources of income (44 dormitories total)

Construction of new building began on March 10, 1910. Jensen Construction Company was retained as the general contractor. On February 18, 1911, the new YMCA building opened.

At the time, M. W. Parsons, state secretary for the YMCA, declared that Fort Dodge had the finest YMCA building in the state and that it is the largest project carried to successful conclusion through popular subscription and pledges.

No doubt, from the day it was built until 1964, the Fort Dodge YMCA was considered a wonderful recreational asset for the community. The building had a magnificent gymnasium with two main baskets and four baskets on the side walls. It also had an indoor pool that was used by kids and adults alike. This original Y had Family Nights when women and girls could come and swim and participate with their family. The Y even had a lunch counter where kids and adults could grab a snack, maybe even a bowl of chili before going home. The YMCA was truly a great place for fun, exercise and socialization.

The original building that opened in 1911, operated until 1964. By this time, the original YMCA facility had aged and was no longer large enough to accommodate the needs of the members. Board members and community leaders began the planning for a new and larger facility. The cost was estimated to be close to one million dollars. Again, this money was raised through a community fundraising campaign led by Ed Breen, Fred Seifer, Herb Bennett, Board Chairman George Gildemeister and Glen Davies who was the YMCA executive director.

In January of 1965, the new YMCA facility opened it doors at the corner of 15th Street and 1st Avenue South. It was Glen Davies who led the lobbying for construction of a new YMCA when the original building, at the time, was over 50 years old and in desperate need of updates. By engaging the community about need and importance of a new facility, Davies and the campaign committee were successful raising the necessary funds. Glen Davies was highly respected throughout the community as a person who loved community work, physical activity, people and most of all kids.

During this period of transition from the original YMCA to the new facility, Glen Davies served as the Y’s executive director from 1957 to 1966 and Bruce Wilde was the physical director and was instrumental in establishing a volleyball program. Jerry Patterson was the youth sports directors for several years and established the YMCA Teener Baseball Program. Many of the “Teener” baseball games were played at Jerry’s own Patterson Field.

In Fort Dodge, the YMCA remained affiliated with the YMCA of America until 2010. Due to a new partnership with Iowa Central Community College that offered additional fitness services to college students and the general public, the YMCA was converted to the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center. An obscure policy of the National YMCA would not approve this successful partnership with Iowa Central Community College because the fitness facility on its campus did not allow those under age 18 to use it. This led to the ending of the Fort Dodge YMCA’s storied relationship with the national YMCA.

Today, the Fort Dodge REC remains a strong and active organization providing a wide range of recreation and fitness programs through its four locations. Besides the main building at 15th Street and 1st Avenue South, there is an exercise facility at Iowa Central Community College, a multipurpose cross training facility at the old Fareway Store location at Second Avenue South and Seventh Street, and a 24-hour fitness center at Fifth Avenue South and 21st Street that was purchased from Snap Fitness in 2015.

Youth programs designed for kindergarteners through sixth-graders, in partnership with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, are basketball, flag football, martial arts, aquatic programs, soccer and baseball. Adults are offered more than 50 different fitness classes that include Pilates, cycle, step, boot camp, yoga, core strengthening, Zumba and blast.

The REC has found heightened interest among senior citizens in using the pool for low-impact exercise and has increased the number of water fitness classes. Adults continue to use the gymnasium for basketball, volleyball and a new and very popular activity, pickleball.

Sources:

*Messenger Spotlight…. by Paul Stevene

*Messenger newspaper





Oleson Park Band Shell

1938

1400 Oleson Park Ave

The Oleson Park Band Shell marked a major departure from the small gazebo type bandstands which were constructed in the U.S. after the Civil War. 

bandshell 1.jpg

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The Young Woman's Christian Association was organized July 8, 1909. Mrs. John P. Dolliver was the first president and served until October, 1910, when she resigned and Mrs. George Ringland was elected president. The work was conducted for a time in the frame building just north of the Commercial National Bank building on Central Avenue. In the fall of 1909, the Reynolds property on the corner of First avenue north and Ninth street was purchased, and became the home of the YWCA, and is still there today. At the time of buying the location, $13,000.00 of the purchase price was raised by subscriptions, of which $10,000.00 was paid for the site. Later the lot adjoining on the west was purchased at a cost of $4,500.00. On January 17, 1913, the mortgage on the YWCA building was paid. An event celebrating the “burning of the mortgage” was held on January 21, 1913 with Dr. Sarah Kime in charge of the ceremony.

The three-story building was designed to house permanent and transient women. With dorm style private housing throughout, residents shared kitchen, laundry, bath and lounge space. The building also included club rooms and a gymnasium with showers. Thirty-six rooms were available for rent by women coming into the community for education and employment.

The directors at that time were: Mrs. George Ringland, president; Mrs. J. I. Rutledge, first vice president; Mrs. E. H. Williams, second vice president ; Mrs. W. H. Blakely, corresponding secretary ; Mrs. Charles Findlay, recording secretary, and Dr. Sarah Kime, treasurer. The remaining board of directors included Mesdames Anna Beatty, W. H. Blakely, C. V. Findlay, J. F. Russell, E. H. Williams, D. M. Woodard, George H. Williams, F. B. Olney, G. L. Lindquist, and Phillip Dorr.

During the year 1912-13, there were 126 girls were enrolled in YWCA programs. By 1930, the membership of the YWCA totaled 700 women. From 1915 to 1943, the YWCA Cafeteria served 3 meal daily. Meals were provided a nourishment for low income and transient women and for the women living at the Y. The cafeteria continued serving meals until 1961. During its peak of operation, the YWCA Cafeteria was recognized as a social center for motorists and the traveling public.

Nationally, since its beginnings in the 1860’s, the YWCA has advocated for women’s economic advancement, empowerment, health, fitness and well-being, education and leadership development. In Fort Dodge, YWCA programs and offerings have evolved with the changing needs and interests of women and girls in the area. Early classes and clubs involved “working girls.” The YWCA began the Fort Dodge Business and Professional Women's Club, the Fort Dodge Business Girl's Club, and the Young Adult Club. The woman's movement saw great participation by the Girl Reserves in Fort Dodge, and most notably the Black Girl Reserves. From their inception, YWCA programs have been visionary -- encouraging every woman and girl to perform at her maximum level to achieve self-sufficiency, maintain healthy habits, empower herself and work toward resolving racial justice issues.

The YWCA has served thousands of women and children in its 100+ years in Fort Dodge, and will continue to serve for many years to come. Today, the YWCA Center for Life Empowerment operates a Licensed Residential Treatment Center for women. The Center is a state licensed substance abuse treatment facility, which functions to provide clinically managed residential treatment for women and women with children. The organization also provides intensive and extended outpatient care both females and males. Treatment is directed toward applying recovery skills, preventing relapse, promoting personally responsibility, skills, and reintegrating the resident into the world of work, education, and family life.

The YWCA supports and directs clients by offering guidance in all aspects of their recovery. It encourage a comprehensive approach to goal setting, development of life skills, physical and mental health, employment, vocational or education enrichment and family support. The YWCA remains dedicated to empowering women and women with children by supporting their recovery and reunifying their families.





Treloar's Inn

1928

North 15th Street

The most legendary of all the Fort Dodge restaurants was Treloar’s Inn.  In its day, Treloar’s Inn was known all over the mid-west and seated over 500 people. It all began with a 120 square foot building.

treloars 1.jpg

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In 1844, the first YMCA was opened in London, England, by George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker who was troubled by how many young men in London were coping with the hazards of life on the streets. This first YMCA offered something unique for its time.

In the United States, the first YMCA was founded in Boston, MA. by a retired Boston sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan. Sullivan noticed a similar need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by the stories of the YMCA in England, Sullivan led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston on December 29, 1851.

With so many young men moving to cities from rural areas, YMCA housing was started in the 1860’s for the purpose of giving these young men safe and affordable lodging and opportunities for recreation so they could have a healthy release from their difficult lives. Facilities included gyms, auditoriums and hotel-like rooms. Chicago’s Farwell Hall, the first known YMCA dormitory, was completed in 1867. Between 1922 and 1940, YMCA accommodations grew from approximately 55,000 rooms to more than 100,000, more than any hotel chain at the time.

In Fort Dodge, a group of Fort Dodge businessmen organized a YMCA and was incorporated it in 1891. The first location (unknown) had a fire in January of 1892. The YMCA then lease a few rooms over C.E. Black’s meat market. In February of 1892, John Parsons offered one of his lots for a new building. A campaign for a new YMCA began but only $2,000 was raised and the project never got off the ground. In July 1894, a special meeting was held to discuss renting rooms in George W. Mason’s building, above Craft’s grocery store, located at the corner of Central Avenue and 9th Street. The rooms would be used a reading and lecture rooms and a room for games. A shower and tub baths would also be added to the location. These new rooms were opened in August of 1894.

In November of 1897 -with the need for more space, the board members of the YMCA agreed to lease the 2nd and 3rd floors of the new Sanderson Building that was nearing the completion for being built. Sanderson Building was located one door east of the Post Office on Central Avenue, (today this would be on the 900 block on Central Avenue). The new building was being built for the Sanderson Candy Factory, which later become the Fort Dodge Candy Factory. The YMCA officially opened its doors in the Sanderson Building in February of 1898. This new site provided five rooms on the second floor; Director’s room, two reading rooms, the secretary’s office and a game room. On the third floor, there was 51 x 39 ft. gymnasium with gallery seating for 70 people and five bath rooms. The rooms of the second floor were also used for socialization and meetings for prayer. F.A. Garrison was the board president. J.G. Early was the board secretary. Other charter board members included E.H. Rich, C.W. Ackerman, C.H. Smith, S.A. Smith, L.L. Leighton, C. Craft, W.U. Turpin, E.E. Prusia, E. Berschein, T.H Wright, J.F. Nelson, J.J. Rutke, T.E. Deereaux, and F. Gates.

In September of 1909, O.M. Oleson, a renowned Fort Dodge businessman and philanthropist, announced that he would be donating property for the location of a new building for the YMCA . The location would be on north side of 1st Avenue North and North 6th Street, across the street from the former Fort Dodge Carnegie Library.

In October, a group of Fort Dodge business leaders led a fundraising campaign to raise $70,000 to build a new YMCA building. Ten days later on November 5, 1909, it was announced that over $76,000 had been raised or pledged for the new building. The preliminary floor plans for the new YMCA included:

* Sub-basement: locker rooms with bath/shower rooms, swimming pool, and bowling alley

* First floor: offices, parlors, reading and recreation rooms, 45 x 78 foot gymnasium with a raised running track above gymnasium and a cafeteria

* Second floor: dormitories, educational department and a large room/ banqueting hall which may be cut into smaller class rooms when needed.

* Third floor: more dormitories, which will be one of the chief sources of income (44 dormitories total)

Construction of new building began on March 10, 1910. Jensen Construction Company was retained as the general contractor. On February 18, 1911, the new YMCA building opened.

At the time, M. W. Parsons, state secretary for the YMCA, declared that Fort Dodge had the finest YMCA building in the state and that it is the largest project carried to successful conclusion through popular subscription and pledges.

No doubt, from the day it was built until 1964, the Fort Dodge YMCA was considered a wonderful recreational asset for the community. The building had a magnificent gymnasium with two main baskets and four baskets on the side walls. It also had an indoor pool that was used by kids and adults alike. This original Y had Family Nights when women and girls could come and swim and participate with their family. The Y even had a lunch counter where kids and adults could grab a snack, maybe even a bowl of chili before going home. The YMCA was truly a great place for fun, exercise and socialization.

The original building that opened in 1911, operated until 1964. By this time, the original YMCA facility had aged and was no longer large enough to accommodate the needs of the members. Board members and community leaders began the planning for a new and larger facility. The cost was estimated to be close to one million dollars. Again, this money was raised through a community fundraising campaign led by Ed Breen, Fred Seifer, Herb Bennett, Board Chairman George Gildemeister and Glen Davies who was the YMCA executive director.

In January of 1965, the new YMCA facility opened it doors at the corner of 15th Street and 1st Avenue South. It was Glen Davies who led the lobbying for construction of a new YMCA when the original building, at the time, was over 50 years old and in desperate need of updates. By engaging the community about need and importance of a new facility, Davies and the campaign committee were successful raising the necessary funds. Glen Davies was highly respected throughout the community as a person who loved community work, physical activity, people and most of all kids.

During this period of transition from the original YMCA to the new facility, Glen Davies served as the Y’s executive director from 1957 to 1966 and Bruce Wilde was the physical director and was instrumental in establishing a volleyball program. Jerry Patterson was the youth sports directors for several years and established the YMCA Teener Baseball Program. Many of the “Teener” baseball games were played at Jerry’s own Patterson Field.

In Fort Dodge, the YMCA remained affiliated with the YMCA of America until 2010. Due to a new partnership with Iowa Central Community College that offered additional fitness services to college students and the general public, the YMCA was converted to the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center. An obscure policy of the National YMCA would not approve this successful partnership with Iowa Central Community College because the fitness facility on its campus did not allow those under age 18 to use it. This led to the ending of the Fort Dodge YMCA’s storied relationship with the national YMCA.

Today, the Fort Dodge REC remains a strong and active organization providing a wide range of recreation and fitness programs through its four locations. Besides the main building at 15th Street and 1st Avenue South, there is an exercise facility at Iowa Central Community College, a multipurpose cross training facility at the old Fareway Store location at Second Avenue South and Seventh Street, and a 24-hour fitness center at Fifth Avenue South and 21st Street that was purchased from Snap Fitness in 2015.

Youth programs designed for kindergarteners through sixth-graders, in partnership with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, are basketball, flag football, martial arts, aquatic programs, soccer and baseball. Adults are offered more than 50 different fitness classes that include Pilates, cycle, step, boot camp, yoga, core strengthening, Zumba and blast.

The REC has found heightened interest among senior citizens in using the pool for low-impact exercise and has increased the number of water fitness classes. Adults continue to use the gymnasium for basketball, volleyball and a new and very popular activity, pickleball.

Sources:

*Messenger Spotlight…. by Paul Stevene

*Messenger newspaper





Ringland/Smeltzer House

1903

1019 2nd Ave. S

Spencer Beman designed a home for the Ringlands that exhibited Jacobethan Revival architecture, which featured unique brickwork, tall chimneys, multiple gables and rectangular window frames with leaded glass panes.

Smeltzer House.JPG

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Located at 824 3rd Avenue South in the historic Oak Hill District in Fort Dodge, The Vincent House speaks of the compelling history of the very beginnings of the city. The Vincent House is the oldest structure left in the community. The Victorian style mansion was built in 1872, just three short years after the official incorporation of the City. The Vincent House was built by one of the first pioneer families in Fort Dodge, James and Adeline Swain. James was an early pharmacist who opened the first drug store in Fort Dodge and worked in the wholesale and retail drug business.

During the time that the Swains lived in the house, Adeline Swain dedicated most of her time to educating women. In their home. She taught higher education in English, French, science botany, oil painting, and drawing. Adeline was also the first woman in Iowa to lead the women's rights movement, which furthered the rights of women's suffrage. Susan B. Anthony, the famous American social reformer and women's rights activist and who helped start the women's suffrage movement stayed at the Vincent House as a guest of Adeline Swain.

During the eight years that the Swains lived in the house rooms were rented out to new-comers arriving to Fort Dodge. The house was also rented out for banquets, parties, receptions, and other events. In 1874, Adeline was elected state secretary. It was during that time that Adeline found her way onto the Greenback political ticket, and was awarded lifetime membership. Governmental meetings were held at her home. After her husband's death in 1877, Adeline moved from Fort Dodge. (For more information on Adeline, see the biography of Adeline Swain under Iconic People on this website).

The Vincent House is important architecturally as a well-preserved example of a type of Victorian style home found in cities throughout the United States during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The red brick, three-story mansion was built with a 9-foot high foundation made of gypsum. The first floor hosts a large living room area, a spacious dining room, a large kitchen and an elegant entrance foyer. An elaborate long stairway to the second and third floors welcomes guests who enter the home through the stylish front entrance. Most of the tile in the home was made in Fort Dodge and surrounding communities with the exception of the Italian tile at the base of the living room fireplace and the parquet flooring that was imported from Europe.

An elaborate long stairway to the second and third floors welcomes guests who enter the home through the stylish front entrance. The first floor ceilings are 13 feet high, the second floor ceiling is 12 feet high, and the ceiling in the ballroom on the third floor is 9 feet high. The second floor has four bedrooms with a bathroom. The third floor is the ballroom that was often used by the Swains and Vincents for important meetings and community events. The exterior walls of the house are 24 inches thick with interior walls approximately 13 inches thick. It follows the Second Empire style characterized by the mansard roof, narrow windows and wrap-around porch. The original Steinway piano that was purchased by the Vincent family for their daughter Helen in 1885 remains as a center piece of the main living area. Several of the paintings and furnishings in the home are original. An artist touring the United States stayed in the home and in exchange for room and board painted portraits for the family.

In 1879, The Vincent house was purchased by another Fort Dodge pioneer, Webb Vincent and his wife Catherine. The Vincents moved into the house on October 17, 1879 when the house was still not quite finished so they completed the construction of the home and lived in the home for close to five decades.

Webb Vincent was a leader and pioneer in the gypsum industry. In 1870, the long and continuing history of gypsum production in Iowa started when Webb Vincent and his partners George Ringland and Stillman T. Meservey formed the Fort Dodge Plaster Mills to mine, grind, and prepare gypsum for commercial use. The company, known as the Iowa Hard Plaster Company, constructed the first gypsum mill west of the Mississippi River and initiated the long and continuing history of gypsum production in Iowa.

Webb Vincent was known as a man with sterling qualities of strong mind, a warm heart, a wonderful sense of humor and a genial personality. He held strong feelings of kinship and service to his family and his community. As an extraordinary pioneer, inventor and businessman, Webb Vincent served fifty years as a bank director with the First National Bank in Fort Dodge.

Web and his wife Catherine had two children, Helen and Donald Vincent. Helen Vincent passed away as a young child. Webb Vincent passed away in 1930 at the age of 89. He and his wife Catherine are interred in the historic Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge. (For more information on Webb Vincent, see the biography of Webb Simpson under the Iconic People section on this website).

The next generation of Vincents to live in the home was Webb and Catherine’s son Donald and his wife Ann. Donald met his wife Ann, one summer day when Ann and a friend from Chicago University came back to Fort Dodge and attended a party at the Vincent House. They dated a short time and then were wed. Ann Vincent Roby graduated from University of Chicago in 1901. She was a painter, artist, a wonderful golfer, and a state bridge player. She was also captain of the woman's basketball team. Ann, like Adeline Swain, believed in and rallied for equal rights for women during a time when women did not share equal rights with men. Donald and Ann had three children, one of which died at birth. Their daughters were Catherine Deardorf and Nancy Vincent Nesbitt.

Donald and Ann continued the Vincent tradition of family and community. On Sunday afternoons, the Vincent family would gather after dinner and fill baskets with food to give to families in need. That humanitarian effort eventually grew into the Fort Dodge’s United Way chapter.

On April 23rd, 1973, The Vincent House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1969, Ann Vincent and her daughter, Catherine Deardorf, willed the house to the YWCA with the stipulation that it be preserved and used by the public for meetings, special events, social gatherings and friendly get-togethers. The Vincent’s family china is still used for sit-down dinners. They also requested the house be formally named The Vincent House. Ann and Catherine also established a trust fund to help maintain the integrity of the beautiful home. The Vincent family made their fortune in Fort Dodge and they wanted it to stay in Fort Dodge.

Anyone interested in reserving The Vincent house for a meeting, a special event or a social gathering should contact the YWCA at 515-573-3931.

Sources:

* http://vincenthousefd.octadyne.net

* Messenger Newspaper – October 2, 2020

* Swain – Vincent House - Prepared by Wesley I. Shank, Iowa State University 1972

* Historic Homes of Fort Dodge, Iowa - Author: Karl F. Haugen - Release Date: September 4, 2020





The Vincent House

1872

824 3rd Avenue South

Located at 824 3rd Avenue South in the historic Oak Hill District in Fort Dodge, The Vincent House speaks of the compelling history of the very beginnings of the city.

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In 1844, the first YMCA was opened in London, England, by George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker who was troubled by how many young men in London were coping with the hazards of life on the streets. This first YMCA offered something unique for its time.

In the United States, the first YMCA was founded in Boston, MA. by a retired Boston sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan. Sullivan noticed a similar need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by the stories of the YMCA in England, Sullivan led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston on December 29, 1851.

With so many young men moving to cities from rural areas, YMCA housing was started in the 1860’s for the purpose of giving these young men safe and affordable lodging and opportunities for recreation so they could have a healthy release from their difficult lives. Facilities included gyms, auditoriums and hotel-like rooms. Chicago’s Farwell Hall, the first known YMCA dormitory, was completed in 1867. Between 1922 and 1940, YMCA accommodations grew from approximately 55,000 rooms to more than 100,000, more than any hotel chain at the time.

In Fort Dodge, a group of Fort Dodge businessmen organized a YMCA and was incorporated it in 1891. The first location (unknown) had a fire in January of 1892. The YMCA then lease a few rooms over C.E. Black’s meat market. In February of 1892, John Parsons offered one of his lots for a new building. A campaign for a new YMCA began but only $2,000 was raised and the project never got off the ground. In July 1894, a special meeting was held to discuss renting rooms in George W. Mason’s building, above Craft’s grocery store, located at the corner of Central Avenue and 9th Street. The rooms would be used a reading and lecture rooms and a room for games. A shower and tub baths would also be added to the location. These new rooms were opened in August of 1894.

In November of 1897 -with the need for more space, the board members of the YMCA agreed to lease the 2nd and 3rd floors of the new Sanderson Building that was nearing the completion for being built. Sanderson Building was located one door east of the Post Office on Central Avenue, (today this would be on the 900 block on Central Avenue). The new building was being built for the Sanderson Candy Factory, which later become the Fort Dodge Candy Factory. The YMCA officially opened its doors in the Sanderson Building in February of 1898. This new site provided five rooms on the second floor; Director’s room, two reading rooms, the secretary’s office and a game room. On the third floor, there was 51 x 39 ft. gymnasium with gallery seating for 70 people and five bath rooms. The rooms of the second floor were also used for socialization and meetings for prayer. F.A. Garrison was the board president. J.G. Early was the board secretary. Other charter board members included E.H. Rich, C.W. Ackerman, C.H. Smith, S.A. Smith, L.L. Leighton, C. Craft, W.U. Turpin, E.E. Prusia, E. Berschein, T.H Wright, J.F. Nelson, J.J. Rutke, T.E. Deereaux, and F. Gates.

In September of 1909, O.M. Oleson, a renowned Fort Dodge businessman and philanthropist, announced that he would be donating property for the location of a new building for the YMCA . The location would be on north side of 1st Avenue North and North 6th Street, across the street from the former Fort Dodge Carnegie Library.

In October, a group of Fort Dodge business leaders led a fundraising campaign to raise $70,000 to build a new YMCA building. Ten days later on November 5, 1909, it was announced that over $76,000 had been raised or pledged for the new building. The preliminary floor plans for the new YMCA included:

* Sub-basement: locker rooms with bath/shower rooms, swimming pool, and bowling alley

* First floor: offices, parlors, reading and recreation rooms, 45 x 78 foot gymnasium with a raised running track above gymnasium and a cafeteria

* Second floor: dormitories, educational department and a large room/ banqueting hall which may be cut into smaller class rooms when needed.

* Third floor: more dormitories, which will be one of the chief sources of income (44 dormitories total)

Construction of new building began on March 10, 1910. Jensen Construction Company was retained as the general contractor. On February 18, 1911, the new YMCA building opened.

At the time, M. W. Parsons, state secretary for the YMCA, declared that Fort Dodge had the finest YMCA building in the state and that it is the largest project carried to successful conclusion through popular subscription and pledges.

No doubt, from the day it was built until 1964, the Fort Dodge YMCA was considered a wonderful recreational asset for the community. The building had a magnificent gymnasium with two main baskets and four baskets on the side walls. It also had an indoor pool that was used by kids and adults alike. This original Y had Family Nights when women and girls could come and swim and participate with their family. The Y even had a lunch counter where kids and adults could grab a snack, maybe even a bowl of chili before going home. The YMCA was truly a great place for fun, exercise and socialization.

The original building that opened in 1911, operated until 1964. By this time, the original YMCA facility had aged and was no longer large enough to accommodate the needs of the members. Board members and community leaders began the planning for a new and larger facility. The cost was estimated to be close to one million dollars. Again, this money was raised through a community fundraising campaign led by Ed Breen, Fred Seifer, Herb Bennett, Board Chairman George Gildemeister and Glen Davies who was the YMCA executive director.

In January of 1965, the new YMCA facility opened it doors at the corner of 15th Street and 1st Avenue South. It was Glen Davies who led the lobbying for construction of a new YMCA when the original building, at the time, was over 50 years old and in desperate need of updates. By engaging the community about need and importance of a new facility, Davies and the campaign committee were successful raising the necessary funds. Glen Davies was highly respected throughout the community as a person who loved community work, physical activity, people and most of all kids.

During this period of transition from the original YMCA to the new facility, Glen Davies served as the Y’s executive director from 1957 to 1966 and Bruce Wilde was the physical director and was instrumental in establishing a volleyball program. Jerry Patterson was the youth sports directors for several years and established the YMCA Teener Baseball Program. Many of the “Teener” baseball games were played at Jerry’s own Patterson Field.

In Fort Dodge, the YMCA remained affiliated with the YMCA of America until 2010. Due to a new partnership with Iowa Central Community College that offered additional fitness services to college students and the general public, the YMCA was converted to the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center. An obscure policy of the National YMCA would not approve this successful partnership with Iowa Central Community College because the fitness facility on its campus did not allow those under age 18 to use it. This led to the ending of the Fort Dodge YMCA’s storied relationship with the national YMCA.

Today, the Fort Dodge REC remains a strong and active organization providing a wide range of recreation and fitness programs through its four locations. Besides the main building at 15th Street and 1st Avenue South, there is an exercise facility at Iowa Central Community College, a multipurpose cross training facility at the old Fareway Store location at Second Avenue South and Seventh Street, and a 24-hour fitness center at Fifth Avenue South and 21st Street that was purchased from Snap Fitness in 2015.

Youth programs designed for kindergarteners through sixth-graders, in partnership with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, are basketball, flag football, martial arts, aquatic programs, soccer and baseball. Adults are offered more than 50 different fitness classes that include Pilates, cycle, step, boot camp, yoga, core strengthening, Zumba and blast.

The REC has found heightened interest among senior citizens in using the pool for low-impact exercise and has increased the number of water fitness classes. Adults continue to use the gymnasium for basketball, volleyball and a new and very popular activity, pickleball.

Sources:

*Messenger Spotlight…. by Paul Stevene

*Messenger newspaper





YMCA

1891

1422 1st Ave S

This space probably was used to provide temporary housing for homeless men and a space for socialization and meetings for prayer.

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In 1844, the first YMCA was opened in London, England, by George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker who was troubled by how many young men in London were coping with the hazards of life on the streets. This first YMCA offered something unique for its time.

In the United States, the first YMCA was founded in Boston, MA. by a retired Boston sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan. Sullivan noticed a similar need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by the stories of the YMCA in England, Sullivan led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston on December 29, 1851.

With so many young men moving to cities from rural areas, YMCA housing was started in the 1860’s for the purpose of giving these young men safe and affordable lodging and opportunities for recreation so they could have a healthy release from their difficult lives. Facilities included gyms, auditoriums and hotel-like rooms. Chicago’s Farwell Hall, the first known YMCA dormitory, was completed in 1867. Between 1922 and 1940, YMCA accommodations grew from approximately 55,000 rooms to more than 100,000, more than any hotel chain at the time.

In Fort Dodge, a group of Fort Dodge businessmen organized a YMCA and was incorporated it in 1891. The first location (unknown) had a fire in January of 1892. The YMCA then lease a few rooms over C.E. Black’s meat market. In February of 1892, John Parsons offered one of his lots for a new building. A campaign for a new YMCA began but only $2,000 was raised and the project never got off the ground. In July 1894, a special meeting was held to discuss renting rooms in George W. Mason’s building, above Craft’s grocery store, located at the corner of Central Avenue and 9th Street. The rooms would be used a reading and lecture rooms and a room for games. A shower and tub baths would also be added to the location. These new rooms were opened in August of 1894.

In November of 1897 -with the need for more space, the board members of the YMCA agreed to lease the 2nd and 3rd floors of the new Sanderson Building that was nearing the completion for being built. Sanderson Building was located one door east of the Post Office on Central Avenue, (today this would be on the 900 block on Central Avenue). The new building was being built for the Sanderson Candy Factory, which later become the Fort Dodge Candy Factory. The YMCA officially opened its doors in the Sanderson Building in February of 1898. This new site provided five rooms on the second floor; Director’s room, two reading rooms, the secretary’s office and a game room. On the third floor, there was 51 x 39 ft. gymnasium with gallery seating for 70 people and five bath rooms. The rooms of the second floor were also used for socialization and meetings for prayer. F.A. Garrison was the board president. J.G. Early was the board secretary. Other charter board members included E.H. Rich, C.W. Ackerman, C.H. Smith, S.A. Smith, L.L. Leighton, C. Craft, W.U. Turpin, E.E. Prusia, E. Berschein, T.H Wright, J.F. Nelson, J.J. Rutke, T.E. Deereaux, and F. Gates.

In September of 1909, O.M. Oleson, a renowned Fort Dodge businessman and philanthropist, announced that he would be donating property for the location of a new building for the YMCA . The location would be on north side of 1st Avenue North and North 6th Street, across the street from the former Fort Dodge Carnegie Library.

In October, a group of Fort Dodge business leaders led a fundraising campaign to raise $70,000 to build a new YMCA building. Ten days later on November 5, 1909, it was announced that over $76,000 had been raised or pledged for the new building. The preliminary floor plans for the new YMCA included:

* Sub-basement: locker rooms with bath/shower rooms, swimming pool, and bowling alley

* First floor: offices, parlors, reading and recreation rooms, 45 x 78 foot gymnasium with a raised running track above gymnasium and a cafeteria

* Second floor: dormitories, educational department and a large room/ banqueting hall which may be cut into smaller class rooms when needed.

* Third floor: more dormitories, which will be one of the chief sources of income (44 dormitories total)

Construction of new building began on March 10, 1910. Jensen Construction Company was retained as the general contractor. On February 18, 1911, the new YMCA building opened.

At the time, M. W. Parsons, state secretary for the YMCA, declared that Fort Dodge had the finest YMCA building in the state and that it is the largest project carried to successful conclusion through popular subscription and pledges.

No doubt, from the day it was built until 1964, the Fort Dodge YMCA was considered a wonderful recreational asset for the community. The building had a magnificent gymnasium with two main baskets and four baskets on the side walls. It also had an indoor pool that was used by kids and adults alike. This original Y had Family Nights when women and girls could come and swim and participate with their family. The Y even had a lunch counter where kids and adults could grab a snack, maybe even a bowl of chili before going home. The YMCA was truly a great place for fun, exercise and socialization.

The original building that opened in 1911, operated until 1964. By this time, the original YMCA facility had aged and was no longer large enough to accommodate the needs of the members. Board members and community leaders began the planning for a new and larger facility. The cost was estimated to be close to one million dollars. Again, this money was raised through a community fundraising campaign led by Ed Breen, Fred Seifer, Herb Bennett, Board Chairman George Gildemeister and Glen Davies who was the YMCA executive director.

In January of 1965, the new YMCA facility opened it doors at the corner of 15th Street and 1st Avenue South. It was Glen Davies who led the lobbying for construction of a new YMCA when the original building, at the time, was over 50 years old and in desperate need of updates. By engaging the community about need and importance of a new facility, Davies and the campaign committee were successful raising the necessary funds. Glen Davies was highly respected throughout the community as a person who loved community work, physical activity, people and most of all kids.

During this period of transition from the original YMCA to the new facility, Glen Davies served as the Y’s executive director from 1957 to 1966 and Bruce Wilde was the physical director and was instrumental in establishing a volleyball program. Jerry Patterson was the youth sports directors for several years and established the YMCA Teener Baseball Program. Many of the “Teener” baseball games were played at Jerry’s own Patterson Field.

In Fort Dodge, the YMCA remained affiliated with the YMCA of America until 2010. Due to a new partnership with Iowa Central Community College that offered additional fitness services to college students and the general public, the YMCA was converted to the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center. An obscure policy of the National YMCA would not approve this successful partnership with Iowa Central Community College because the fitness facility on its campus did not allow those under age 18 to use it. This led to the ending of the Fort Dodge YMCA’s storied relationship with the national YMCA.

Today, the Fort Dodge REC remains a strong and active organization providing a wide range of recreation and fitness programs through its four locations. Besides the main building at 15th Street and 1st Avenue South, there is an exercise facility at Iowa Central Community College, a multipurpose cross training facility at the old Fareway Store location at Second Avenue South and Seventh Street, and a 24-hour fitness center at Fifth Avenue South and 21st Street that was purchased from Snap Fitness in 2015.

Youth programs designed for kindergarteners through sixth-graders, in partnership with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, are basketball, flag football, martial arts, aquatic programs, soccer and baseball. Adults are offered more than 50 different fitness classes that include Pilates, cycle, step, boot camp, yoga, core strengthening, Zumba and blast.

The REC has found heightened interest among senior citizens in using the pool for low-impact exercise and has increased the number of water fitness classes. Adults continue to use the gymnasium for basketball, volleyball and a new and very popular activity, pickleball.

Sources:

*Messenger Spotlight…. by Paul Stevene

*Messenger newspaper





YWCA

1909

826 1st Ave N

The Young Woman's Christian Association was organized July 8, 1909. Mrs. John P. Dolliver was the first president and served until October, 1910, when she resigned and Mrs. George Ringland was elected president.

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The Young Woman's Christian Association was organized July 8, 1909. Mrs. John P. Dolliver was the first president and served until October, 1910, when she resigned and Mrs. George Ringland was elected president. The work was conducted for a time in the frame building just north of the Commercial National Bank building on Central Avenue. In the fall of 1909, the Reynolds property on the corner of First avenue north and Ninth street was purchased, and became the home of the YWCA, and is still there today. At the time of buying the location, $13,000.00 of the purchase price was raised by subscriptions, of which $10,000.00 was paid for the site. Later the lot adjoining on the west was purchased at a cost of $4,500.00. On January 17, 1913, the mortgage on the YWCA building was paid. An event celebrating the “burning of the mortgage” was held on January 21, 1913 with Dr. Sarah Kime in charge of the ceremony.

The three-story building was designed to house permanent and transient women. With dorm style private housing throughout, residents shared kitchen, laundry, bath and lounge space. The building also included club rooms and a gymnasium with showers. Thirty-six rooms were available for rent by women coming into the community for education and employment.

The directors at that time were: Mrs. George Ringland, president; Mrs. J. I. Rutledge, first vice president; Mrs. E. H. Williams, second vice president ; Mrs. W. H. Blakely, corresponding secretary ; Mrs. Charles Findlay, recording secretary, and Dr. Sarah Kime, treasurer. The remaining board of directors included Mesdames Anna Beatty, W. H. Blakely, C. V. Findlay, J. F. Russell, E. H. Williams, D. M. Woodard, George H. Williams, F. B. Olney, G. L. Lindquist, and Phillip Dorr.

During the year 1912-13, there were 126 girls were enrolled in YWCA programs. By 1930, the membership of the YWCA totaled 700 women. From 1915 to 1943, the YWCA Cafeteria served 3 meal daily. Meals were provided a nourishment for low income and transient women and for the women living at the Y. The cafeteria continued serving meals until 1961. During its peak of operation, the YWCA Cafeteria was recognized as a social center for motorists and the traveling public.

Nationally, since its beginnings in the 1860’s, the YWCA has advocated for women’s economic advancement, empowerment, health, fitness and well-being, education and leadership development. In Fort Dodge, YWCA programs and offerings have evolved with the changing needs and interests of women and girls in the area. Early classes and clubs involved “working girls.” The YWCA began the Fort Dodge Business and Professional Women's Club, the Fort Dodge Business Girl's Club, and the Young Adult Club. The woman's movement saw great participation by the Girl Reserves in Fort Dodge, and most notably the Black Girl Reserves. From their inception, YWCA programs have been visionary -- encouraging every woman and girl to perform at her maximum level to achieve self-sufficiency, maintain healthy habits, empower herself and work toward resolving racial justice issues.

The YWCA has served thousands of women and children in its 100+ years in Fort Dodge, and will continue to serve for many years to come. Today, the YWCA Center for Life Empowerment operates a Licensed Residential Treatment Center for women. The Center is a state licensed substance abuse treatment facility, which functions to provide clinically managed residential treatment for women and women with children. The organization also provides intensive and extended outpatient care both females and males. Treatment is directed toward applying recovery skills, preventing relapse, promoting personally responsibility, skills, and reintegrating the resident into the world of work, education, and family life.

The YWCA supports and directs clients by offering guidance in all aspects of their recovery. It encourage a comprehensive approach to goal setting, development of life skills, physical and mental health, employment, vocational or education enrichment and family support. The YWCA remains dedicated to empowering women and women with children by supporting their recovery and reunifying their families.