Oskaloosa Library Next For Historical Marker

Historic Marker for the Oskaloosa Public Library

Historic Marker for the Oskaloosa Public Library

Library Celebrates Blackwell Memorial Makerspace
and Historical Building Marker on June 9 at 6 pm

OSKALOOSA – The Oskaloosa Public Library will host a special celebration on Wednesday, June 9 at 6 pm in the Reading Garden to officially unveil The Kim (Gigi) Blackwell Memorial Makerspace as well as their Historical Building Marker. The public is invited to attend.

According to Historical Building Marker Steering Committee member Ann Brouwer, the historical marker at the library was placed in March of 2020. Due to COVID 19 gathering restrictions, the unveiling ceremony was postponed. The library was also honored to be named a recipient of memorials for Kim Blackwell, who passed away on Dec. 17, 2020.

“To combine the history of this celebrated building along with an exciting future that includes the addition of a Makerspace, made possible by the generosity of Kim Blackwell’s family and friends, is truly an honor,” Brouwer stressed.
A Makerspace is a collaborative workspace for making, learning, exploring and sharing. These spaces are open to people of all ages and can include everything from sewing machines to the latest technological tools including robotics and 3D printers. Makerspaces are preparing people who want to explore skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“It’s a space where anyone can gather and create something through hands-on learning. Exploring your own interests is at the core of a Makerspace,” Brouwer explained. “Board members and staff at the Oskaloosa Public Library have been dreaming of adding a Makerspace for several years and once they received the memorial funding, were able to hit the ground running to create such an inspirational space that will continue to grow.

“This is at a truly fitting memorial to have the library’s Makerspace named after such a beloved member of our community.”

The Oskaloosa Public Library opened its doors in 1903. It was built with money donated by Scottish American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The words “FREE” above the original entrance on the east side of the library is a clue that this is one of 1,689 Carnegie Libraries in America.

Calvin Bandstra, steering committee research coordinator, will present a powerpoint presentation along with library volunteer researchers Nancy Brown and Diana Pearson. Julie Hansen, who was the library board president when the 1997 addition project began, will share her memories of the sizable undertaking and will exhibit the three awards the library received post-construction.

Tom Rielly, former Oskaloosa Mayor and State Senator, as well as a close friend of the Blackwell family, will be the Master of Ceremony. Tours of the Kim “Gigi” Blackwell memorial Makerspace will be offered after the ceremony.

Historical Building Steering Committee Member Sherry Vavra said the Fire Station, Mahaska County Courthouse, Iowa Building, Trolley Place, Centennial Block, Frankel Building, IMB Soc. Building, and Stapp building have already had historical markers installed on their building’s façade. They have one remaining building, The Book Vault, to install a marker on and they will have completed the historical marker project.

“What a great historical journey we have been able to highlight thanks to the generosity of businesses and volunteers from throughout the community,” Vavra said. “So many people gave of their time and talents to make this project possible. We have been able to make a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy.”

Each historical marker includes the year the building was built, pictures of the building through the years, and a few interesting and fun facts to appeal to community members and visitors. In addition, there is a link to a webpage hosted by the Oskaloosa Area Chamber and Development Group, https://www..oacdg.org/history, on each marker. Here, people can find a more in-depth history of the building.
Vavra explained that the webpage is maintained at the Chamber so there is a community institution in place to help preserve this history for the future. It is a work in progress and more information is being added as it is acquired.

“The people who inhabited these buildings are as much or more a part of the building’s story as is the brick and mortar,” Vavra stressed. “We encourage anyone with photos of the building or information on the occupants throughout the years to help us add to the documented history.”

Posted by on Jun 1 2021. Filed under Events, Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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