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Silos and Smokestacks

Ira and Asenath Sturdevant's house, ca. 1890

Creating New Opportunities

In 2017-18, the Ira Sturdevant House became the first property within Bremer County designated an "Emerging Site" for the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area. In "Northeast Iowa, Silos and Smokestacks is a 37-county, 20,000-square-mile storybook that tells a vivid and enthralling tale, capturing the imagination of visitors of all ages." See 


"National Heritage Areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes.  Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes. Consequently, National Heritage Areas entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs." They are a program under the U.S. National Park Service. See


Reaching Goals

Ira Sturdevant House, Inc., has the goal of integrating its historical interpretation with the Silos and Smokestacks themes that best match the history of the house, its immediate neighborhood, and their residents. The Sturdevant story in Southwest Waverly is one of farm families settling after a long exodus. Ira's house hosted passing Native Americans seeking their subsidies for recently ceded lands. Abstracts from the Sturdevants' section of Waverly (the Ira and William Sturdevant additions) form the narrative of conversion from farmland to town site, streets, and alleys.



The Story

The story includes William Sturdevant's many efforts to develop southwest Waverly in the 1850s, such as the first bridge across the Cedar River, hotels, a dry goods business, the post office and both a postal route and coach service, as well as laying out the town. As the history of Water (later First) Street Southwest and the South Riverside neighborhood continued, it highlighted the importance of a transportation theme to agricultural settlement, with the Rock Island Railroad spur line, the Rock Island Depot, the Farmers Exchange Building (NRHP site), the Farmer Cooperative building (also illustrating farmers' efforts to organize in their own interests), and other agricultural-industrial structures and activities that developed. Today, the Farmers Market on the riverfront--and the community gardens (that supply the regional food bank) in the vacancies created by the 2008 flood--still highlight agriculture's roots in the neighborhood.  

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