Issue Number 1September 9, 2001
The Brick Board Bugle
Herriman Mansion website: http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~herrimanmansion/index.html
This is the first issue of what I hope will be a regular newsletter to help keep the friends and supporters of the proposed Herriman Mansion project informed about the progress. The name of the newsletter has combined the name for the proposed governing body (coined by Allen Knox) with the keyless brass instrument used to play simple military tunes. This "bugle" will "toot" about whatever seems to be significant about the efforts to get action moving to preserve the Herriman Mansion, commonly referred to as The Brick.
There are several efforts under way to help move the project along. Ed Gage is having the charter for the Illyria-Wadena Betterment Association revised to allow tax-deductible donations to be made. I am hopeful the association will serve as an interim conduit or umbrella to allow The Brick Board or similar committee type structure to function in the near-term. This interim structure could support the Herriman Mansion project until decisions are made and action taken to create a more appropriate long-term structure. If Ed will function as the local area coordinator for this group, that will get the effort moving with local leadership. I need to get away from being the focal point and the project should function with local Wadena area leadership. To the extent that I can, I will support the effort from my home in California.
Another significant task that is underway is research and construction of a title history from abstracts and deeds for the Herriman property. The effort that Tex Heyer is undertaking is of significant importance to the project and the effort to get the property added to the National Register of Historic Places.
I am currently collecting information needed to complete the application to the Iowa State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) for consideration of the application at the state level. We already have a Certification Of Eligibility so with proper documentation, we should have an application that should be approved at the state level and be forwarded for consideration at the National level.
Connie Popenhagen has volunteered to assist with the project so I have requested she help with some of this research.. I had also exchanged email with Deanna McTaggart and had a telephone conversation with Teresa Burrack so expect these two ladies will also give some assistance when their family responsibilities and community activities will permit.
Janell Bradley, with suggestions from Allen Knox, had promoted the idea of restoring the Herriman Mansion in an article published in the Fayette Leader on September 26, 2001. While it has been misinterpreted by some, I hope the overall outcome is positive in making the proposed project known to more people. I did get a letter from a lady in Hazleton along with a copy of an article about her grandfather and the support he received from a Mr. Thore Thompson, a farmer near Wadena., so her grandfather could get started farming in the 1930s. I believe it is an example of the rich rural history that is related to the Wadena area and the Herriman Mansion. The restored mansion would be a great place to collect and have available for public viewing that important history. I would like to have Janell's article followed up with publicity on the activities of the local committee and individuals supporting the project. This would keep before the local community the importance of the Herriman Mansion and the status of the progress being made on the project.
I have exchanged email with Laverne Swenson on several occasions and Laverne has been a rich source of ideas and suggestions. He gave me a point of contact, Kim Tschudy from Wisconsin, who is currently involved in a hotel restoration project in Clermont. Kim has been quite supportive and interested in the Herriman Mansion project and has provided some excellent suggestions. While it is not apparent how this will be of support in the long-term, it is certainly important moral support for the near-term. He has provided me with his expert opinion on the do-ability of this project and I look forward to his continued involvement.
When in Wadena in August I was given the name of a man from Decorah who had been to Wadena and had looked at the Herriman Mansion with the thought of restoring it. He had also visited the Wadena Library and had left his name, address and phone number with the librarian. I called him (finally got to it on November 8th) and found he is a professional potter and had thought Wadena and that mansion would be a great place to live and do his trade. However, the severe deterioration he observed was going to require a much greater commitment of resources than he had available as an individual. He is elated that there is a proposed effort to restore the mansion. I believe he will be a real asset to the project and the way it could fit into the Valley Corridor development planning.
Herriman Mansion - Today
Herriman Mansion website - I have received some assistance from my son, Vipal Prem, to get an interim website established. It is using free server space on RootsWeb. When the project matures I would like to establish (or would recommend the project team establish) a permanent website with its own domain name. I would appreciate feedback to help with the refinement of this website and the eventual development of the permanent site. In addition to the website dedicated to promoting the Herriman Mansion restoration project, I have had two photo album websites on-line for several months to show the condition of the mansion and provide other visual information to help communicate the possibilities for the preservation and use of the property for public benefit. There are links being added to the Herriman Mansion website to direct visitors to the photo albums.
Thanks To Supporters
All support is greatly appreciated. I must especially thank Allen Knox for his continued support in getting information out to more potential participants and supporters. While Allen feels his business and other community involvement preclude him from being a "permanent" participant in a leadership role, he always is available with encouragement and suggestions of additional people to contact or approach for specific support. Most of these have included people or organizations who have expressed interest in the project and/or a willingness to do what they can. Several people who are regular or periodic participants and/or leaders in the Valley Corridor think tank group have been encouraging and helpful in seeking the next steps to take in moving this project forward. All of the help and encouragement is most appreciated.
The advice I've been receiving from Laverne Swenson, Kim Tschudy, and Ralph Christian (State Historical Society of Iowa} is that the application for the National Register of Historic Places has to be a priority task. I have been proceeding as though I would take a shot at writing it unless we either identified the funds and hired a professional or got additional help on the team to split up the work and assure a quality product. This application is very important step in the march toward being listed on the National Register. National Register listing is necessary to be eligible for much of the private and government funding that is available. Laverne and Kim have both indicated professional preparation is probably the way to go. I would like some feedback or recommendations (with proposed solutions) to getting this task done. Another near-term task is doing some stabilization of the property to prevent or minimize further deterioration. Kim has suggested covering the leaking roofs with tarps. Again, there is a significant expense involved. A third near-term task is to enter some form of discussions and negotiations with the property owner, Mr. Eldon Lenth, to get an agreement on the property being available through donation, sale, or some combination thereof for the purpose of preservation as a historic property. I would be open to suggestions, comments, or offers of support on any or all of these near-term tasks.
Next Issue of the Bugle
I hope to have another issue out in early January. Any suggestions or inputs of material to be included can be sent to my email address.