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Carnegie Cultural Center
Carnegie Connection
Spring/Summer, 2015
The mission of the Carnegie Cultural Center is to establish a vital presence
of the Arts, History and Cultural Awareness for the enlightenment, enjoyment and
of all Chickasaw County residents and visitors.
Whew! It has been a busy spring into summer season for the Carnegie Cultural Center. Before the robins even returned, we initiated our first Memoir Writing Workshop. Facilitated by Linda Kennedy and myself, a group of about 10 people are now actively engaged in the art of memoir writing. As a staunch believer in the importance of preserving personal and local histories, I feel as though the workshop is as rewarding an undertaking for me (a non-writer at this point) as it is for the participants. I have been genuinely impressed by what the writers are accomplishing as well as the motivating support they offer one another in what can be a rather daunting undertaking. How long will the group meet? As long as they feel it is helping them reach their goal.

Saturday, May 30, was the first of a four weekend long stretch of other activities when the unveiling of a new Permanent Exhibit, Gregg’s Grandiose Miniatures was celebrated. Hand-crafted by Gregg Kruse of Iowa City, the exhibit is comprised of HO scale model circus wagons and equipment. The smaller scale is a very nice addition to our already notable circus array and the scope of his collection allowed us to tell a bigger part of the story of a 20th century phenomenon that brought a lot of fun and excitement to the likes of Chickasaw County.

An artist open house/reception for Cassandra Bormann: Print Maker, Studio Artist was held the following Sunday (June 7). A native of Ionia and NHHS graduate, Cassie’s family and her personal memories are an inspiration for much of her work. Also on display were photographs and artifacts from the 1,000,000 Bones Project for which Cassie served as the Iowa coordinator. It is gratifying to be able to showcase the accomplishments of “local” talent.

We doubled up on weekend #3, June 13-14. On Saturday, the Cultural Center sponsored a couple “scavenger” hunts focusing on New Hampton history for Heartland Days. On Sunday a performance of Map of My Kingdom by Iowa Poet Laureate, Mary Swander, was held in the barn at the Ed & Eleanora Blazek farm north of Lawler. The theme of the play ...the importance of thoughtful planning for farm land especially relevant for Chickasaw County, so we were very motivated to organize the event. Over 100 people were in attendance and the earnest discussion that followed the play’s performance confirmed that the topic is indeed on the mind of area farmers and property owners. The Cultural Center hopes to help organize a follow-up goal setting session in the near future for those struggling with the issue.

The Lawler Irish Fest was celebrated on the weekend of June 19-21. In this case, the Cultural Center plays a support role by providing photos and memorabilia for their exhibit of vintage Lawler ephemera and the production of a book about Lawler businesses. Entitled Main and Grove, A Pictorial History of the Businesses of Lawler, Iowa, the limited edition book was coordinated and designed by graphic artist, Dick Blazek and is available for purchase at the Cultural Center. All proceeds go to support the Irish Fest celebration.

Presently, we are organizing the next Temporary Exhibit, Remembering Vietnam, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the end of that difficult conflict.  The message of the exhibit is simple: in the small rural County of Chickasaw, there are many people who were...and some way connected to this war. We are attempting to contact veterans (or the survivors of) whose names are listed on the Chickasaw County Veteran’s Memorial. It’s a bit of a challenge since our only reference is the local phone book, a limited resource at best.  The exhibit will be on display during July, August and part of September, 2015 with a reception scheduled for Sunday, August 23, at the Cultural Center. The local chapter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is coordinating with us to confer quilts on a group of Vietnam vets during the reception. Hopefully the timing of the Carnegie’s commemoration will help promote Operation LZ, a larger “Welcome Home” event for Vietnam veterans to be held in Forest City Aug. 26-30, 2015.

Variety is the “spice of life” is it not? 1969 NHHS graduate, Cecelia Eichenberger, currently living in North Carolina and working for Duke Univ., contacted the Cultural Center through our website and expressed an interest in sharing her writing experiences with her home community. We are most happy to oblige! Writing under the pen name, Lillith Giardini, she recently published a novel entitled Fallen Far from the Tree.  On Sunday, July 26 from 1:30 – 3:30, a book event will be held during which Cecelia will do a reading from her book and talk about the process of self-publishing. You can get a sneak preview or purchase her book on Amazon, but look for more details in upcoming editions of the New Hampton Tribune.

Be sure to circle Sunday, August 16, on your calendar when the Carnegie will host its annual “Farewell to Summer” concert at the band shell in Mikkelson Park. Beginning at 7:00 pm, this year’s concert will feature the Cedar Harmony Chorus, an award winning women’s a cappella club affiliated with Sweet Adelines International. This will absolutely be fun so, again, watch the Tribune for more details.

This old house, the Carnegie building, was built in 1909. Visitors often remind us, however, that this place is a part of their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s memory and community identity.  I’ll not get on my soapbox at this time, but there ARE many good reasons to preserve solid, useful historic public facilities such as this one. To that end, repairs to the lower stone-work were completed earlier this spring and repairs to the building’s two chimneys (one that hadn’t been used for years and one that vents the current boiler) were slated to be completed at the same time. To make a long  story short, the cost of the repairs combined with the age of the boiler (1963 vintage, installed, no doubt, after the introduction of natural gas to New Hampton ) and other factors led to the decision to remove the chimneys and get a new boiler instead. The new boiler will be much more efficient (save$) and vent through the side of the building. We strive to preserve the original aspects of this building, so the decision bothered me a bit. In the end, however, I came to appreciate the idea that what goes on inside the building is more important than outside appearances. So, this summer a new boiler will be installed and we will work hard to make sure that things keep happening and in the future.

The name of this organization...the Carnegie Cultural Center...does a pretty good job of describing what we are. In our case, “culture” refers to
WHO and WHAT we are...our story of the way we have lived and continue to live and includes our attitudes, traditions, history, artistic creations and aspirations. Whether we are fully conscious of it or not, our culture is central to the way our future takes shape. This type of culture is cumulative and is passed on from one generation to the next orally and behaviorally as well as physically in the form of material objects, records and the arts.

The activities of the Carnegie Cultural Center...from historical archives development to fine arts exhibits, from concerts to Lego club activities, or from preservation of a historic building to prompting farmers to look to the future...all fall within the cultural parameters suggested above.  Everyone ...including invited to participate and thus help build a stronger community.

Not long ago, you would never have heard about, but now there is a real burgeoning interest in personal and local history. **Help us build our local archives by becoming a volunteer archivist or volunteer facility manager.

The nature of childhood is vastly different now than it was just a generation or two ago. **Help us offer a unique opportunity to local kids by volunteering to help with our “early-out after school” Lego Club.

**Call 641-394-2354     or email

Thank you, thank you CCC volunteers & donors. You inspire me!
CCC Volunteer Administrator

Footprints from the past are everywhere...
on buildings: Cotant, Herwig, Kennedy, Firemen etc.
on street signs: Bigelow, Sheakley, Klenske, Rigler etc.
on places: Runion, Garnant,  Mikkelson Parks
Leave a footprint of your name next to the internationally recognized name of “Carnegie”.
Endow the construction of an archives center adjacent to the Cultural Center.
Think about it.
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