Herriman Mansion Restoration Project - Brick Board Bugle - August 18, 2002
Issue Number 4August 18, 2002

The Brick Board Bugle

Herriman Mansion website: http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~herrimanmansion/index.html

Editor: Everett Zupke
4802 Marion Avenue
Cypress, CA 90630-4323
(714) 828-1894

Local Coordinator: Ed Gage
140 S. River Street
Wadena, IA 52169
(563) 774-3205

Newspapers of Fayette County Online website link The Herriman Mansion Restoration Project

Herriman Mansion
Segment of drawing from the 1875 Andreas Atlas showing the Herriman Mansion as it appeared in the 1870s.

Community Sites: Elgin: (Iowa Related Links - Misc. Links) Clermont: (Links Of Local Interest) Fayette Co. Genealogy: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~iafayett/

Note: This issue of The Brick Board Bugle is also available in PDF format for the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Past Issues of the Brickboard Bugle

Fourth Regular Issue

This is the fourth regular issue of the periodic newsletter to inform the public, supporters and friends of the Herriman Mansion project about its progress. A special "EXTRA" issue was published in May to report on the TAN visit and report. Significant actions to record the history and encourage the preservation and restoration of the Herriman Mansion, commonly referred to as "The Brick," will continue to be published here.

Availability of The Brick

Contacts were made with the property owner, Mr. Eldon Lenth, in May and again in August to determine his position on making available the Herriman Mansion and the land surrounding it needed to support the restoration project. While earlier contacts had not been encouraging, they had indicated a willingness by Mr. Lenth to discuss his concerns about the project. When contact was made by telephone on August 6th he informed me that he had decided after much consideration not to make the land available to restore the Herriman Mansion in its current location. He did offer to donate the building for restoration or any other historical use if it were removed from his property. This development leaves the future of the restoration project very much "up in the air." While disappointing, it presents a whole new set of alternatives and their related challenges to consider.

Current Course of Action

My conviction that this property deserves to be preserved and restored is not swayed by these developments. Nor is my resolve to develop a complete history of the Maj. David B, Herriman and his family, the mansion that he built, as well as the significant contributions he made to the development of Wadena and Illyria Township. How the uniqueness of "The Brick" will fit into and support this history is yet to be determined. My personal feeling is the moving of the mansion to a new location is neither practical or historically accurate since so much of the history relates to the land Maj. Herriman selected as the location for his new, large, extravagant for the time, home for his family and his farm laborers. I will therefore explore other alternatives and, only if someone identifies a way, would reconsider the alternative of moving the building.

Title History

The history was prepared by Jan Baade, a staff member in Tex Heyer’s Fayette County Abstract Company. While in Iowa in June I met Jan and Tex to express my personal "Thank You" for their efforts in completing this monumental task. This title history is of significant importance to the project and any effort to get the property added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Thanks to Supporters

In June I met several times with. Ed Gage who has been serving as the focal point in the Wadena area. He continues to be a significant supporter of the project and his continued interest is very much appreciated. Allen Knox provided even more valuable contacts when I visited with him in June. As always, his interest and ideas for contacting and enrolling others in support of this project continues to be invaluable. Kim Tschudy met Ed and I in Wadena on June 29th and I visited Kim briefly in Clermont to see his restoration and refurbishment projects there. Kim's interest in and support of the Herriman Mansion project is a real asset.

Former Residents of the Brick

Grace Durnan, her son Mike Durnan and Earl Wilbur, all former residents (1950s and early 1930s, respectively) of the Herriman Mansion, were visited in June. They provided much significant information about the property as it was during the period that they lived there.

This adds to that previously provided by Pat Smith, Ralph Fest, Lois Erickson, and Lorrain (Mrs. Earle Little) Foster and members of the Davis and Probert families who shared memories and stories about their families’ past association with The Brick.

While doing research on the Herriman family at the Fayette County Historical Center in West Union, I met Ruth (Hidinger) Brooks, a granddaughter of Mary Ann (Dye) Hidinger. Mary Ann was a half sister to Maj. David B. Herriman’s second wife, Elizabeth (Dye) Herriman. Ruth had some interesting stories about the mansion told to her by her grandmother. Her grandmother was married to Francis Edward "Frank" Hidinger in the Herriman Mansion in 1876, the year after Maj. Herriman died. She had lived with her sister and brother-in-law in the mansion for several years prior to her marriage and was apparently there in the capacity of a servant or housekeeper.

On-going Tasks

The various on-going efforts to help move the project along include these tasks:

The charter for the Illyria-Wadena Community Betterment Association is being revised to allow tax-deductible donations to be made.

Information is being collected to prepare a National Register application to be considered by the Iowa State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO).

These and many additional tasks need to be done. Most can be broken into small packages so the volunteers performing them need not feel overwhelmed. If you are interested in this project and would like to help out, contact Everett or Ed to let us know what you would be most interested in doing.

Local Publicity

Continued publicity on the activities of the local committee and individuals supporting the project is needed. Prior contact with The Oelwein Daily Register and a visit to the Fayette County Union in June have indicated the editors would like to work with us on a future article for publication in The Register and the Union.

The importance of the Herriman Mansion and the status of the progress being made on the project needs to be frequently displayed before the people of Northeast Iowa, especially the immediate local community, and people with ties to Wadena or having an interest in preserving history and property landmarks.

Other Support

Kim Tschudy from Wisconsin, who has his own historic building project underway in Clermont, has also continued to be very supportive of the Herriman Mansion project. Our meetings in June and consultations with him since continue to be invaluable.

Herriman Mansion website

The interim website established on RootsWeb is being expanded as time permits. Please provide inputs by signing the guest book on the website or sending me an email with your feedback. This will help with the refinement of this website and the eventual development of the permanent site.

Links To Other Websites

Follow the links to our RootsWeb site on the two community websites and the Herriman Mansion restoration project website shown on page 1 of this newsletter. They has links to two on-line photo album websites and other related websites for you to view.

Additional Planned Near-Term Efforts

The National Register of Historic Places application is a priority task. The most significant progress is the recent completion of the title history. We continue to gather other data for use in this effort.

REAP (Resource Enhancement
and Protection Act),
the source for the REAP/Historical
Resource Development Program
(REAP/ HRDP) funding.

The TAN visit has provided important feedback and the report includes significant guidance to aid all of the project tasks including guidance for applying for REAP/HRDP grants.

Completing the application for the National Register of Historic Places, while a very important step in the march toward being listed on the National Register, will require some investigation given the current situation concerning availability of the property.

The near-term task of doing some stabilization of the property to prevent or minimize further deterioration is currently on hold pending the development of a suitable alternative course of action. This is of major concern as without some stabilization efforts, the building is likely to collapse.

I would like your comments and suggestions, or offers of support on this effort or any of the other near-term tasks.


A total of $530 in cash donations have been received from three contributors. In addition, there have been contributions "in kind" totaling over $2000. We may have a "Catch 22" situation where solicitation of donations needs to be based upon an assurance the property will be made available for preservation and making the property available may be dependent upon having sufficient finds available to cover acquisition costs.

Next Issue of the Bugle

I plan for another issue to be out in early October. Send inputs by US mail or email, i.e., any suggestions on content or material to be included.

Previous Issues of the Brick Board Bugle

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