Herriman Mansion Restoration Project - Restoration


The restoration of the Herriman Mansion has been proposed by various writers for over 50 years, but not until recently has there been a serious effort made to accomplish this restoration. There is some evidence that the IMT Insurance Company, currently located in Des Moines, Iowa, and co-founded by Jesse B. Herriman, son of Major David B. Herriman, had made inquiries into acquiring and preserving the mansion in the 1970s, however, for reasons not yet fully determined, the effort was not successful.

Near the end of the twentieth century, Mr. William Frank Probert took action to get the property added to the list of Iowa's most endangered historic properties. He also submitted a nomination for the property to be added to the list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Properties; however, the competition was stiff and this nomination was not selected for addition to the list in 2001.

Mr. Zupke's interest in the property was wetted by research he was doing on his family history and in June, 2001 he visited and photographed the property and acquired information from Mr. Probert on the above actions he had taken. An intense effort was initiated during the summer and fall of 2001 to bring this property to the consciousness of people in the Northeast Iowa area and to relatives, former residents of the property and former residents of Wadena, Iowa, in an attempt to form a local committee to serve to carryout a restoration project.

These promotional efforts are in process and are continuing to evolve. Some tasks have been initiated by a few volunteers. This website has been generated to help promote the project and will evolve along with the project. It is anticipated it will eventually transition to a server with the website having its own domain name as the project matures.

Click to Enlarge - Photo, taken around 1950, of delapidated mansion which appeared in The Union newspaper, July 1976

The objective of this restoration as currently proposed is to return it to as close as possible to the configuration it was when it was first constructed. Exceptions would be having modern restroom facilities, handicapped access, electrical power, etc. The restoration would include the windows on the lower porch and second level aviary which are visible in this news article photograph of the mansion believed to have been taken sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

The following is an outline of a plan to carry out the restoration project. It will be revised as the committee is formed and begins to function as a guiding force in the implementation of the project. Mr. Allen Knox, whose mother, Marjorie Knox, had been a vocal advocate for the preservation of the mansion, has coined the name "The Brick Board" for this committee. Time will tell whether or not that name sticks, but until a committee is formed and in operation, it is being used as a de facto name for the proposed project leadership group.

The newsletter that informs interested individuals or groups of the current status and actions has been named "The Brick Board Bugle" and is available on this website. You may browse the current version, download an Acrobat-PDF version, or look in the archives for previous issues, once they become available. If you would like to become involved with this project, please look at the ways you can help page.

Plan For Restoring The Herriman Mansion

  1. Organize a preliminary "Brick Board"
  2. Determine non-profit structures for the Herriman Mansion project
  3. Determine and implement the stabilization actions needed for the Herriman Mansion property
    1. Protection from the elements; there may be some bracing or temporary shoring up of roof, walls, or floors needed for safety.
    2. To protect from environment, covering roof (possibly coverage with tarps) and sealing open windows and doors is probably needed as early as possible.
  4. Acquire the Herriman Mansion property by a non-profit corporation or foundation
    Note: The property owner has recently advised that he does not intend to sell the land on which the mansion currently stands. Alternative courses of action are being investigated. Please see the latest issues of the newsletter beginning with Issue Number 4, dated August 18, 2002 for the current status related to these developments.
  5. Make application to add the Herriman Mansion to the National Register of Historic Places
  6. Initiate fund raising activities
  7. Initiate writing of grants for funds
  8. Complete all research needed
      Following research needed:
    1. History of the Herriman Family,
    2. History related to the Herriman ownership of the property,
    3. History of all other owners and tenants that have owned and/or lived in the mansion,
    4. Information that is needed to restore the building and furnish the property in the form it existed during the original time period it was in existence,
    5. Information to support the ultimate use and operation of the mansion as a public treasure, and
    6. Other research needed to satisfy the goals set by the board for the restoration and use of the property.
  9. Define the restoration actions required
      Related to the restoration is the planning for the following things needed to meet public use and handicapped access requirements:
    1. Provide adequate bathroom facilities,
    2. Provide any ramps needed for first level access and elevator or alternative "access" to 2nd and 3rd stories, and
    3. Adequate parking facilities.
  10. Establish the permanent non-profit structure
  11. Contract for the work required for restoration
  12. Plan and develop libraries, displays, furnishings, etc.
  13. Operate as a non-profit, public access historic property (consider Bed and Breakfast to offset some of the operating expenses)