Iconic Places

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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





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.

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. 

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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





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. 

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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.





Dodger Stadium

1939

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

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The Oleson Park Band Shell was designed by Sioux City architect Henry Kamphoefner in 1936. It was built by the WPA* in 1938. O.M. Oleson donated the park in which the Band Shell stands.

O.M. Oleson was born in Norway and migrated to the United States in 1870 with cash resources of less than one dollar. He came to Fort Dodge after working on area farms and in a retail drug business. He understood the value of education, so decided to enroll in the Philadelphia School of Pharmacy. He graduated with honors, and returned to Fort Dodge in 1876, where he established the Oleson Drug Company, which remained in business at the same location until 1965. Oleson was a successful businessman and was instrumental in the development of other local businesses: Fort Dodge Light and Power Company, O.M. Oleson Land Company, the Fort Dodge Hotel Company, The Iowa Trust and Livestock Company and the Fort Dodge Telephone Company. He also served in the Iowa Senate from 1892-1896. He and his wife Julie (nee Haskell) were generous philanthropists in Fort Dodge. With their financial support, Lutheran Hospital and the Congregational Church were built.

The Oleson Park Band Shell’s architecture style is Modern Movement Architecture (sleek, smooth, and streamlined). Architect Henry Kamphaffner designed the building which is made wholly of reinforced concrete cast in smooth – lined forms. It has acoustical perfection – its concrete sculpture encloses performers in a shell and projects their music for blocks without electronic assistance. The original structure was fronted with lighted waterfalls and pools. The interior of the band shell was lighted with soft colored lights. 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. WPA funding paid for 85% of the cost of construction (total coast was $45,000) and the City of Fort Dodge paid the remaining 15%. It had seating capacity of 3,500 when it was completed in 1938. Its construction reflected a sense of optimism and hope for the future during the Great Depression and as a WPA project, provided economic relief by providing jobs and stimulation of the local economy.

The State of Iowa chose this band shell as its example of architectural excellence at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. The band shell is closely associated with composer Karl L. King as well as the Karl L. King Municipal Band, which performs summer concerts to date (2019).

The dedication of the band shell was held June 7, 1938 in conjunction with the annual convention of the Iowa Bandmasters Association and was one of the largest celebrations in Fort Dodge history. More than 15,000 people attended the dedicatory concert. Eighteen bands, made up of 800 musicians, performed the concert for the dedication. Senator Edward Breen presided over the dedication and a representative of the W.P.A. spoke of the wonder of this project. He said “All men are brothers, that there is enough for everyone in this country, and that when we, as individuals, fail to provide work for those who have no work, that we as a community and as a state will do together what we have failed to do alone.” The Chamber of Commerce entertained Karl King and other visiting notables after the dedication ceremony and concert.

By the early 2000’s, the band shell had deteriorated substantially. Local citizens Jim Reed and John Hale took it upon themselves to address the situation and began raising funds for the band shell’s renovation.

Working closely with the City of Fort Dodge and the Fort Dodge Community Foundation, Jim Reed and John Hale embarked on a capital campaign called the Oleson Park Bandshell Project that was kicked off with The Fab Four concert (a Beatles tribute band) on Friday, July 3rd, 2002. Between direct contributions and net proceeds from concert events between 2002-2006, over $585,000 was raised in private funding that was used as the required match for a $249,822 “Save America’s Treasures” federal preservation grant and a $34,500 Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) grant through the State of Iowa DNR. After meeting rigorous requirements through the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO), the City completed the renovation of the Bandshell in August 2008 at a cost of just over $1 million.

Restorations included renewing the Band Shell’s electrical, light and sound systems, restoring and preserving the structure as well as marketing the venue as a place for more events. Existing seating was removed in 2004 in anticipation of the restoration work. Ultimately, the work was completed after the City Council voted to seek bids for its restoration 2007. Concerts were again held in the Oleson Park Band Shell beginning in 2008.

Jim Reed continued his tradition of hosting wonderful concerts for Fort Dodge with the annual event “Shellabration”. Some of these concerts have been held in the Oleson Park Band Shell.

*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. 

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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





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.

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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





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.

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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. 

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The Oleson Park Band Shell was designed by Sioux City architect Henry Kamphoefner in 1936. It was built by the WPA* in 1938. O.M. Oleson donated the park in which the Band Shell stands.

O.M. Oleson was born in Norway and migrated to the United States in 1870 with cash resources of less than one dollar. He came to Fort Dodge after working on area farms and in a retail drug business. He understood the value of education, so decided to enroll in the Philadelphia School of Pharmacy. He graduated with honors, and returned to Fort Dodge in 1876, where he established the Oleson Drug Company, which remained in business at the same location until 1965. Oleson was a successful businessman and was instrumental in the development of other local businesses: Fort Dodge Light and Power Company, O.M. Oleson Land Company, the Fort Dodge Hotel Company, The Iowa Trust and Livestock Company and the Fort Dodge Telephone Company. He also served in the Iowa Senate from 1892-1896. He and his wife Julie (nee Haskell) were generous philanthropists in Fort Dodge. With their financial support, Lutheran Hospital and the Congregational Church were built.

The Oleson Park Band Shell’s architecture style is Modern Movement Architecture (sleek, smooth, and streamlined). Architect Henry Kamphaffner designed the building which is made wholly of reinforced concrete cast in smooth – lined forms. It has acoustical perfection – its concrete sculpture encloses performers in a shell and projects their music for blocks without electronic assistance. The original structure was fronted with lighted waterfalls and pools. The interior of the band shell was lighted with soft colored lights. 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. WPA funding paid for 85% of the cost of construction (total coast was $45,000) and the City of Fort Dodge paid the remaining 15%. It had seating capacity of 3,500 when it was completed in 1938. Its construction reflected a sense of optimism and hope for the future during the Great Depression and as a WPA project, provided economic relief by providing jobs and stimulation of the local economy.

The State of Iowa chose this band shell as its example of architectural excellence at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. The band shell is closely associated with composer Karl L. King as well as the Karl L. King Municipal Band, which performs summer concerts to date (2019).

The dedication of the band shell was held June 7, 1938 in conjunction with the annual convention of the Iowa Bandmasters Association and was one of the largest celebrations in Fort Dodge history. More than 15,000 people attended the dedicatory concert. Eighteen bands, made up of 800 musicians, performed the concert for the dedication. Senator Edward Breen presided over the dedication and a representative of the W.P.A. spoke of the wonder of this project. He said “All men are brothers, that there is enough for everyone in this country, and that when we, as individuals, fail to provide work for those who have no work, that we as a community and as a state will do together what we have failed to do alone.” The Chamber of Commerce entertained Karl King and other visiting notables after the dedication ceremony and concert.

By the early 2000’s, the band shell had deteriorated substantially. Local citizens Jim Reed and John Hale took it upon themselves to address the situation and began raising funds for the band shell’s renovation.

Working closely with the City of Fort Dodge and the Fort Dodge Community Foundation, Jim Reed and John Hale embarked on a capital campaign called the Oleson Park Bandshell Project that was kicked off with The Fab Four concert (a Beatles tribute band) on Friday, July 3rd, 2002. Between direct contributions and net proceeds from concert events between 2002-2006, over $585,000 was raised in private funding that was used as the required match for a $249,822 “Save America’s Treasures” federal preservation grant and a $34,500 Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) grant through the State of Iowa DNR. After meeting rigorous requirements through the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO), the City completed the renovation of the Bandshell in August 2008 at a cost of just over $1 million.

Restorations included renewing the Band Shell’s electrical, light and sound systems, restoring and preserving the structure as well as marketing the venue as a place for more events. Existing seating was removed in 2004 in anticipation of the restoration work. Ultimately, the work was completed after the City Council voted to seek bids for its restoration 2007. Concerts were again held in the Oleson Park Band Shell beginning in 2008.

Jim Reed continued his tradition of hosting wonderful concerts for Fort Dodge with the annual event “Shellabration”. Some of these concerts have been held in the Oleson Park Band Shell.

*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





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.

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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.

Lester Dewey Treloar was born on September 14. 1898, in Ogden, Iowa. L.D. “Les” Treloar , worked boyhood jobs shining shoes, selling newspapers to coal miners and clerking in a grocery store. He ended his formal education at the eighth grade and eventually became a signal lamp man and then a brakeman for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. He came to Fort Dodge in 1920, when he was 22, worked briefly for the U.S. Gypsum Co. and then became a switchman in the Illinois Central yards. He wasn’t making enough money to support his family, so he and his wife, Hazel, and a younger brother O.L (Orsie) started a small business, using a self-made sandwich wagon, they began selling popcorn and peanuts up and down Central Avenue and also at northern Iowa fairs and farm sales. Les Treloar had an instinct for pleasing the public and a business acumen and work ethic that many saw as unmatched.

Les Treloar also had what he called “Treloar’s First Aid to the Hungry” in a small building at 1022 Central Ave. But, in 1928, he and Hazel started operating a restaurant from the Theiss farm site just on the north edge of the Fort Dodge city limits on North 15th Street. At this location his first restaurant was housed in a small garage they bought at a farm auction.

This makeshift restaurant had a 10’ x 12’ lunchroom with four wooden benches to seat eight customers on a small corner of a cornfield. Lights were supplied by gasoline lanterns. Water was hauled from the City, and there were no sewer facilities. Hazel did the cooking that included hamburgers, fried chicken and ribs. This was the beginning of the iconic Treloar’s Inn restaurant.

Word of the restaurant’s food spread quickly and so did its seating: By 1941, 64 diners could be accommodated; by 1946, there was seating for 210; by 1950, 425, and in 1957, Treloar’s Inn could seat 508 patrons. At times, Les had to use a public address system to handle its large crowds of customers

In 1947, Treloar’s Curb Service (later called Treloar’s Country Boy Drive-In) was opened on the same two-acre plot of land where the Inn stood. In 1950, Les and Hazel’s oldest son, Max, became manager of the fast growing business. In the summers, Treloar’s offered drive-in service with car hops on roller skates bringing food on trays and attaching them to car windows. The popular drive-in service was one the first in Iowa as they became very popular a few years later in the mid-1950s through the 1960’s.

Over the years, the restaurant went through many changes and improvements. The photo at the top of this article is a rendering of the Treloar’s Restaurant in 1946.

Les, known in Fort Dodge as Papa Treloar, also catered many community events at a time when most businesses and organizations had annual employee or member picnics. Many civic groups held their regular meetings at Treloar’s Restaurant. It offered meeting space, great food and a 16mm movie projector that was often used by the groups.

In the summers, Treloar’s offered drive-in service with car hops. As the restaurant continued to expand, Les invested in the latest equipment: walk-in refrigerators, gas steak broilers, electric dishwashers, automatic potato peelers and an intercom system between the basement office, the cashier’s counter, the kitchen and the outdoor drive-in lot. Les Treloar invented and patented the Treloar Bar-B-Que Oven. It was a BBQ oven roasting apparatus with movably mounted food supports with movable heating implements about a vertical axis.

In 1949, Treloar’s served more than 53,000 pounds of ribs, 33,000 chickens and replaced its well with City water – which, they said, made the coffee taste much better! Treloar’s kept a six week supply of frozen chickens (which he got from his son-in-law Delbert Porter’s chicken farm) in his basement freezers. Fresh shrimp was shipped to Treloar’s in half ton size shipments. They made their own ice cream and baked their own pies, bread and other baked goods. One outstanding specialty was Treloar’s barbequed beans. Some say the secret to the baked beans was that they sat beneath the vertically roasting ribs, which allowed the juices to drip into the barbequed beans.

Papa Treloar’s two daughters worked at the restaurant for a period of time and his son, Max, worked as the assistant manager. His twin sons, Dewey and Dean, helped out by washing dishes and “rescuing” dishes and silver that were inadvertently thrown in the trash – they were paid two cents per rescued item.

At its height, Treloar’s operated five restaurants in Fort Dodge – the main Inn and the Country Boy were joined by Max Treloar’s Pancake Feast in 1961 (sold three years later to Max’s sister Billie and her husband Delbert Porter, to become “Del Porter’s Pancake Feast”); a restaurant and lounge in the then-new Holiday Inn in 1964, and the Treloar’s Crossroads Restaurant at the Crossroads Shopping Center in 1969. Hundreds of employees worked for the restaurants over the years.

In the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s, people from a hundred miles away would travel to Fort Dodge to eat at Treloar’s Restaurant. It was the place to go to savor a fine meal and especially enjoy an iconic chicken or rib dinner. Treloar’s Inn was a restaurant that appealed to all generations, teens, young families and older adults. Many special events and moments were celebrated there; birthdays, homecoming and proms, family reunions, weddings and anniversaries. It was so popular that people would wait for hours to get seated on a Mother’s Day or an Easter Sunday.

Papa Treloar understood that great food was the key to keeping customers coming back. Whether it was the baby back ribs, the fried chicken and shrimp, the steaks, the 15-cent burgers, the barbeque beans, the homemade salad dressings and that special barbeque sauce, Treloar’s built its statewide reputation on its delicious food.

Papa also knew the importance of providing his customers with great service. He hired good people and he valued his employees of which many worked for him for years. “The customer always came first” was the Treloar’s mantra.

Known as a bird aficionado, Les Treloar had a green macaw that sat on a perch (unleashed) inside the front door of the restaurant and the lobby aviary had 15 pairs of parakeets. No doubt, Treloar’s Restaurant offered it patrons a unique dining experience.

Papa Treloar and his wife Hazel also loved monkeys and kept two, Maggie and Judy, in a cage out behind the restaurant. That was for the entertainment of the people waiting in line to get in for dinner. In the wintertime, Maggie and Judy were housed in a heated building next to their home.

Les, “Papa” Treloar was an iconic restaurateur. He filled many important offices in state and U.S. Restaurant Associations. He was also an active member of the Fort Dodge Lions Club.

The restaurant business back in its day, was no easy business to manage. Treloar’s Restaurant survived fires in 1956, 1957 and 1969. Treloar’s Inn Restaurant closed in November 1975, the result of a combination of business decisions and the health issues of Max Treloar. The building was demolished in 1977. The Village Inn Restaurant was built in 1981 at the same location, at the intersection of 15th Street and 20th Avenue North.

Les Treloar died in 1983 and is interred at North lawn Cemetery in Fort Dodge. The gravesites for the Treloar’s founder and his wife Hazel, their son Max and other family members are located just across the highway in North Lawn Cemetery. Papa and Hazel Treloar remain nearby to the location of their iconic Fort Dodge restaurant.

Today, the location of Treloar’s Inn is now the site of the Village Inn Restaurant. Memorabilia of days past is displayed in the lobby of the restaurant.

Even though Treloar’s Inn has been closed for over four decades, so many fond memories remain and the taste of those Treloar ribs and chicken still linger on our tongues today.





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.

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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.

Lester Dewey Treloar was born on September 14. 1898, in Ogden, Iowa. L.D. “Les” Treloar , worked boyhood jobs shining shoes, selling newspapers to coal miners and clerking in a grocery store. He ended his formal education at the eighth grade and eventually became a signal lamp man and then a brakeman for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. He came to Fort Dodge in 1920, when he was 22, worked briefly for the U.S. Gypsum Co. and then became a switchman in the Illinois Central yards. He wasn’t making enough money to support his family, so he and his wife, Hazel, and a younger brother O.L (Orsie) started a small business, using a self-made sandwich wagon, they began selling popcorn and peanuts up and down Central Avenue and also at northern Iowa fairs and farm sales. Les Treloar had an instinct for pleasing the public and a business acumen and work ethic that many saw as unmatched.

Les Treloar also had what he called “Treloar’s First Aid to the Hungry” in a small building at 1022 Central Ave. But, in 1928, he and Hazel started operating a restaurant from the Theiss farm site just on the north edge of the Fort Dodge city limits on North 15th Street. At this location his first restaurant was housed in a small garage they bought at a farm auction.

This makeshift restaurant had a 10’ x 12’ lunchroom with four wooden benches to seat eight customers on a small corner of a cornfield. Lights were supplied by gasoline lanterns. Water was hauled from the City, and there were no sewer facilities. Hazel did the cooking that included hamburgers, fried chicken and ribs. This was the beginning of the iconic Treloar’s Inn restaurant.

Word of the restaurant’s food spread quickly and so did its seating: By 1941, 64 diners could be accommodated; by 1946, there was seating for 210; by 1950, 425, and in 1957, Treloar’s Inn could seat 508 patrons. At times, Les had to use a public address system to handle its large crowds of customers

In 1947, Treloar’s Curb Service (later called Treloar’s Country Boy Drive-In) was opened on the same two-acre plot of land where the Inn stood. In 1950, Les and Hazel’s oldest son, Max, became manager of the fast growing business. In the summers, Treloar’s offered drive-in service with car hops on roller skates bringing food on trays and attaching them to car windows. The popular drive-in service was one the first in Iowa as they became very popular a few years later in the mid-1950s through the 1960’s.

Over the years, the restaurant went through many changes and improvements. The photo at the top of this article is a rendering of the Treloar’s Restaurant in 1946.

Les, known in Fort Dodge as Papa Treloar, also catered many community events at a time when most businesses and organizations had annual employee or member picnics. Many civic groups held their regular meetings at Treloar’s Restaurant. It offered meeting space, great food and a 16mm movie projector that was often used by the groups.

In the summers, Treloar’s offered drive-in service with car hops. As the restaurant continued to expand, Les invested in the latest equipment: walk-in refrigerators, gas steak broilers, electric dishwashers, automatic potato peelers and an intercom system between the basement office, the cashier’s counter, the kitchen and the outdoor drive-in lot. Les Treloar invented and patented the Treloar Bar-B-Que Oven. It was a BBQ oven roasting apparatus with movably mounted food supports with movable heating implements about a vertical axis.

In 1949, Treloar’s served more than 53,000 pounds of ribs, 33,000 chickens and replaced its well with City water – which, they said, made the coffee taste much better! Treloar’s kept a six week supply of frozen chickens (which he got from his son-in-law Delbert Porter’s chicken farm) in his basement freezers. Fresh shrimp was shipped to Treloar’s in half ton size shipments. They made their own ice cream and baked their own pies, bread and other baked goods. One outstanding specialty was Treloar’s barbequed beans. Some say the secret to the baked beans was that they sat beneath the vertically roasting ribs, which allowed the juices to drip into the barbequed beans.

Papa Treloar’s two daughters worked at the restaurant for a period of time and his son, Max, worked as the assistant manager. His twin sons, Dewey and Dean, helped out by washing dishes and “rescuing” dishes and silver that were inadvertently thrown in the trash – they were paid two cents per rescued item.

At its height, Treloar’s operated five restaurants in Fort Dodge – the main Inn and the Country Boy were joined by Max Treloar’s Pancake Feast in 1961 (sold three years later to Max’s sister Billie and her husband Delbert Porter, to become “Del Porter’s Pancake Feast”); a restaurant and lounge in the then-new Holiday Inn in 1964, and the Treloar’s Crossroads Restaurant at the Crossroads Shopping Center in 1969. Hundreds of employees worked for the restaurants over the years.

In the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s, people from a hundred miles away would travel to Fort Dodge to eat at Treloar’s Restaurant. It was the place to go to savor a fine meal and especially enjoy an iconic chicken or rib dinner. Treloar’s Inn was a restaurant that appealed to all generations, teens, young families and older adults. Many special events and moments were celebrated there; birthdays, homecoming and proms, family reunions, weddings and anniversaries. It was so popular that people would wait for hours to get seated on a Mother’s Day or an Easter Sunday.

Papa Treloar understood that great food was the key to keeping customers coming back. Whether it was the baby back ribs, the fried chicken and shrimp, the steaks, the 15-cent burgers, the barbeque beans, the homemade salad dressings and that special barbeque sauce, Treloar’s built its statewide reputation on its delicious food.

Papa also knew the importance of providing his customers with great service. He hired good people and he valued his employees of which many worked for him for years. “The customer always came first” was the Treloar’s mantra.

Known as a bird aficionado, Les Treloar had a green macaw that sat on a perch (unleashed) inside the front door of the restaurant and the lobby aviary had 15 pairs of parakeets. No doubt, Treloar’s Restaurant offered it patrons a unique dining experience.

Papa Treloar and his wife Hazel also loved monkeys and kept two, Maggie and Judy, in a cage out behind the restaurant. That was for the entertainment of the people waiting in line to get in for dinner. In the wintertime, Maggie and Judy were housed in a heated building next to their home.

Les, “Papa” Treloar was an iconic restaurateur. He filled many important offices in state and U.S. Restaurant Associations. He was also an active member of the Fort Dodge Lions Club.

The restaurant business back in its day, was no easy business to manage. Treloar’s Restaurant survived fires in 1956, 1957 and 1969. Treloar’s Inn Restaurant closed in November 1975, the result of a combination of business decisions and the health issues of Max Treloar. The building was demolished in 1977. The Village Inn Restaurant was built in 1981 at the same location, at the intersection of 15th Street and 20th Avenue North.

Les Treloar died in 1983 and is interred at North lawn Cemetery in Fort Dodge. The gravesites for the Treloar’s founder and his wife Hazel, their son Max and other family members are located just across the highway in North Lawn Cemetery. Papa and Hazel Treloar remain nearby to the location of their iconic Fort Dodge restaurant.

Today, the location of Treloar’s Inn is now the site of the Village Inn Restaurant. Memorabilia of days past is displayed in the lobby of the restaurant.

Even though Treloar’s Inn has been closed for over four decades, so many fond memories remain and the taste of those Treloar ribs and chicken still linger on our tongues today.





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 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.

Lester Dewey Treloar was born on September 14. 1898, in Ogden, Iowa. L.D. “Les” Treloar , worked boyhood jobs shining shoes, selling newspapers to coal miners and clerking in a grocery store. He ended his formal education at the eighth grade and eventually became a signal lamp man and then a brakeman for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. He came to Fort Dodge in 1920, when he was 22, worked briefly for the U.S. Gypsum Co. and then became a switchman in the Illinois Central yards. He wasn’t making enough money to support his family, so he and his wife, Hazel, and a younger brother O.L (Orsie) started a small business, using a self-made sandwich wagon, they began selling popcorn and peanuts up and down Central Avenue and also at northern Iowa fairs and farm sales. Les Treloar had an instinct for pleasing the public and a business acumen and work ethic that many saw as unmatched.

Les Treloar also had what he called “Treloar’s First Aid to the Hungry” in a small building at 1022 Central Ave. But, in 1928, he and Hazel started operating a restaurant from the Theiss farm site just on the north edge of the Fort Dodge city limits on North 15th Street. At this location his first restaurant was housed in a small garage they bought at a farm auction.

This makeshift restaurant had a 10’ x 12’ lunchroom with four wooden benches to seat eight customers on a small corner of a cornfield. Lights were supplied by gasoline lanterns. Water was hauled from the City, and there were no sewer facilities. Hazel did the cooking that included hamburgers, fried chicken and ribs. This was the beginning of the iconic Treloar’s Inn restaurant.

Word of the restaurant’s food spread quickly and so did its seating: By 1941, 64 diners could be accommodated; by 1946, there was seating for 210; by 1950, 425, and in 1957, Treloar’s Inn could seat 508 patrons. At times, Les had to use a public address system to handle its large crowds of customers

In 1947, Treloar’s Curb Service (later called Treloar’s Country Boy Drive-In) was opened on the same two-acre plot of land where the Inn stood. In 1950, Les and Hazel’s oldest son, Max, became manager of the fast growing business. In the summers, Treloar’s offered drive-in service with car hops on roller skates bringing food on trays and attaching them to car windows. The popular drive-in service was one the first in Iowa as they became very popular a few years later in the mid-1950s through the 1960’s.

Over the years, the restaurant went through many changes and improvements. The photo at the top of this article is a rendering of the Treloar’s Restaurant in 1946.

Les, known in Fort Dodge as Papa Treloar, also catered many community events at a time when most businesses and organizations had annual employee or member picnics. Many civic groups held their regular meetings at Treloar’s Restaurant. It offered meeting space, great food and a 16mm movie projector that was often used by the groups.

In the summers, Treloar’s offered drive-in service with car hops. As the restaurant continued to expand, Les invested in the latest equipment: walk-in refrigerators, gas steak broilers, electric dishwashers, automatic potato peelers and an intercom system between the basement office, the cashier’s counter, the kitchen and the outdoor drive-in lot. Les Treloar invented and patented the Treloar Bar-B-Que Oven. It was a BBQ oven roasting apparatus with movably mounted food supports with movable heating implements about a vertical axis.

In 1949, Treloar’s served more than 53,000 pounds of ribs, 33,000 chickens and replaced its well with City water – which, they said, made the coffee taste much better! Treloar’s kept a six week supply of frozen chickens (which he got from his son-in-law Delbert Porter’s chicken farm) in his basement freezers. Fresh shrimp was shipped to Treloar’s in half ton size shipments. They made their own ice cream and baked their own pies, bread and other baked goods. One outstanding specialty was Treloar’s barbequed beans. Some say the secret to the baked beans was that they sat beneath the vertically roasting ribs, which allowed the juices to drip into the barbequed beans.

Papa Treloar’s two daughters worked at the restaurant for a period of time and his son, Max, worked as the assistant manager. His twin sons, Dewey and Dean, helped out by washing dishes and “rescuing” dishes and silver that were inadvertently thrown in the trash – they were paid two cents per rescued item.

At its height, Treloar’s operated five restaurants in Fort Dodge – the main Inn and the Country Boy were joined by Max Treloar’s Pancake Feast in 1961 (sold three years later to Max’s sister Billie and her husband Delbert Porter, to become “Del Porter’s Pancake Feast”); a restaurant and lounge in the then-new Holiday Inn in 1964, and the Treloar’s Crossroads Restaurant at the Crossroads Shopping Center in 1969. Hundreds of employees worked for the restaurants over the years.

In the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s, people from a hundred miles away would travel to Fort Dodge to eat at Treloar’s Restaurant. It was the place to go to savor a fine meal and especially enjoy an iconic chicken or rib dinner. Treloar’s Inn was a restaurant that appealed to all generations, teens, young families and older adults. Many special events and moments were celebrated there; birthdays, homecoming and proms, family reunions, weddings and anniversaries. It was so popular that people would wait for hours to get seated on a Mother’s Day or an Easter Sunday.

Papa Treloar understood that great food was the key to keeping customers coming back. Whether it was the baby back ribs, the fried chicken and shrimp, the steaks, the 15-cent burgers, the barbeque beans, the homemade salad dressings and that special barbeque sauce, Treloar’s built its statewide reputation on its delicious food.

Papa also knew the importance of providing his customers with great service. He hired good people and he valued his employees of which many worked for him for years. “The customer always came first” was the Treloar’s mantra.

Known as a bird aficionado, Les Treloar had a green macaw that sat on a perch (unleashed) inside the front door of the restaurant and the lobby aviary had 15 pairs of parakeets. No doubt, Treloar’s Restaurant offered it patrons a unique dining experience.

Papa Treloar and his wife Hazel also loved monkeys and kept two, Maggie and Judy, in a cage out behind the restaurant. That was for the entertainment of the people waiting in line to get in for dinner. In the wintertime, Maggie and Judy were housed in a heated building next to their home.

Les, “Papa” Treloar was an iconic restaurateur. He filled many important offices in state and U.S. Restaurant Associations. He was also an active member of the Fort Dodge Lions Club.

The restaurant business back in its day, was no easy business to manage. Treloar’s Restaurant survived fires in 1956, 1957 and 1969. Treloar’s Inn Restaurant closed in November 1975, the result of a combination of business decisions and the health issues of Max Treloar. The building was demolished in 1977. The Village Inn Restaurant was built in 1981 at the same location, at the intersection of 15th Street and 20th Avenue North.

Les Treloar died in 1983 and is interred at North lawn Cemetery in Fort Dodge. The gravesites for the Treloar’s founder and his wife Hazel, their son Max and other family members are located just across the highway in North Lawn Cemetery. Papa and Hazel Treloar remain nearby to the location of their iconic Fort Dodge restaurant.

Today, the location of Treloar’s Inn is now the site of the Village Inn Restaurant. Memorabilia of days past is displayed in the lobby of the restaurant.

Even though Treloar’s Inn has been closed for over four decades, so many fond memories remain and the taste of those Treloar ribs and chicken still linger on our tongues today.





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