The future of the Kalona Historical Society (KHS) Village & Museum took a major positive step forward Monday afternoon with the official ground breaking ceremonies for the new museum and welcome …
The future of the Kalona Historical Society (KHS) Village & Museum took a major positive step forward Monday afternoon with the official ground breaking ceremonies for the new museum and welcome center.
Reflecting on how the village and museum got started over 25 years ago with a “save the depot” campaign, KHS president John Wallerich reflect on the past while projecting a bright future for the museum. He credited many people for being involved in village, making Kalona a tourist destination.
“Today marks a major new project for KHS. The first phase of this new building will give the village a great new look,” he commented, noting it would house a new welcome center for Kalona visitors, provide an entry way to our new quilt and textile museum and the Reif mineral and gemstone collection.
“I want to thank Marilyn and Rev. John Woodin for their contribution (of 40 quilts) that was the starting point of this building project,” Wallerich stressed. “This gave us the boost to dream about what KHS could become. This new building is a result of those dreams. Logan Reif is also a part of this dream with his contribution and support to help make this building become a reality.”
Wallerich noted that the idea for the museum was first considered during his presidency two years ago, but he credited Helen Slechta, the KHS president the past two years, for pulling everything together to assure that the dream became a reality.
Construction of the new museum in already underway. Plans call for the opening of the new facility by Fall Festival, September 24 and 25.
“The Kalona Historical Village has been dear to my heart since its beginning,” Marilyn Woodin commented, noting her husband, John, was the first historical society president.
She noted she and John were involved in saving the Rock Island Depot, raising funds to purchase property and soliciting collections for the museum to be part of the historical vision for Kalona.
“Therefore it seemed only fitting to become a part of the newest building for the museum. She noted that when she approached Wallerich three years ago about a portion of the Kalona Quilt and Textile Collection, he brought it to the board. The quilt and textile museum has been in existence in downtown Kalona for nine years.
“It has been a place to show mostly Woodin Wheel’s private collection of quilts that were pretty much my collection of quilts for 1820 to 1950.
“Because of our desire to keep the interest in Kalona’s tradition of quilting alive,” she explained, “we will give the Kalona Historical Society 30 to 35 quilts from our collection to bring a new attraction to the Kalona Historical Village.”
“We hope it will promote gifts of quilts from others and start the year 2000,” she stressed. She noted that the Kalona Historical Board will be the deciding group on any other acquisitions of textiles and quilts.
“We shall continue talking about quilts of historical significance,” she added. “We hope to work with KHS on rotating quilt displays.”
Woodin too gave Helen Slechta credit for giving her encouragement to see that the construction of the new museum become a reality.
Speaking for his father Logan Reif, Steve Reif related how his parents had become involved in the mineral and gemstone collection as a way of bonding with his brother Doug, who is 12 years younger than him. The collection began with hunting for rocks in rock piles in Muscatine to strip coal mines near Ollie.
“It was in this area and a gravel quarry in Coralville that they found quite a bit of Millerite which is found in only a few places in the world,” he noted. “The basis and funding of their hobby came through the sales of this very rare mineral specimen.”
He noted that Logan has attended the biggest rock and mineral show in the world in Tucson for the past 33 years. “It was at this show that he sold and traded most of his Millerite specimens and other specimens that were found in Iowa. He noted that his parents planned special rock hunting trips a couple times a year even when they were still operating Reif’s Family Center.
“Any state that was known for having certain mineral specimens, dad, mother and Doug have been there. They have hunted emeralds in North Carolina, found dinosaur teeth in the South Dakota Badlands and Black Hills. From coast to coast and from the hunting of opals in Australia and buying gemstones in Hong Kong, they have made rock hunting and buying and selling of gemstones an interesting hobby,” Reif related.
He noted later in their life, his parents became interested in creating a picture depicting the Holy City as visioned by John in the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of Revelation in the Bible. This project was inspired by two long term interests: The first was an early belief in the Bible as the Work of God, and the second by over 60 years of Bible school teaching in the Baptist church.
‘The creation of the Holy City took over four years to complete with the assistance of Jim Selinger, a goldsmith and artist from Colorado Springs and the family of Jimmy Lo of Hong Kong who is a fine craftsman in cutting, polishing and engraving gem stones.
The Holy City is always on display in the Kalona Historical Village museum along with the Reif Rock and Mineral collection.
“Logan and Helen Reif were very pleased when the Kalona Historical Society accepted their collection a number of years ago and gave it a permanent home,” Steve said. “It meant a lot to them to have a home in which to display a collection that they spent a good share of their lives collecting.
“They would certainly like to encourage everyone with an interesting and extensive collection to donate it to the Kalona Historical Society and to fund the housing or building space in which to display the items,” he stressed.
Donations for the new museum are being accepted by KHS board members and at the museum. With a qualifying donation, you can have your name engraved in the Legacy Wall in the new museum.