TREASURES IN THE ATTIC

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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

 

Whether it’s grandma’s attic or dad’s garage, it seems every structure has a nook where unused or outdated items are housed until they’re needed, tossed or sold. 

At the Clayton County Courthouse, that nook is the clock tower room. Over the years, it’s become a repository of an interesting collection of pieces ranging from Civil War relics to everyday items of a bygone era.

“Things have been stored there for over 150 years,” said Betty Buchholz, president of the Clayton County Historic Preservation Commission. “For example, we found a 17-foot ‘Welcome Home, Soldiers’ banner with the date 1861 on one end and 1864 on the other. Clearly, this was used at the end of the Civil War to greet returning soldiers.”

That banner is now on display at the Carter House Museum in Elkader. Also discovered in the storage area were banners used for veterans’ reunions held in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as three that simply said, “Welcome, Iowa workers.” Buchholz guessed that those banners might have something to do with the Civilian Conservation Corps, which would date them to 1933-1942.

The banners are not typical of the items found in the clock tower room. Most of what’s been stored there are mundane but serviceable pieces like a metal bug sprayer, a typewriter, shutters and a yellow metal stepstool as well as some novelty pieces like a gumball machine. The commission will sell many of the items they’ve unearthed on Friday, June 5, a day set aside in Elkader for citywide garage sales. Proceeds from this sale, which will be held on the courthouse lawn, will go towards the clock tower restoration project.

Residents might think that the restoration project is complete, now that the refurbished clock hands are in place. But there’s more work to be done, Buccholz said. The clock face needs to be refurbished and the actual clock tower needs work. The commission has written grants to cover some costs and they’ll get some help from the county. But fundraisers like the “garage sale” will be important, too.

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