historical museum complex is the main attraction |
The Davis County Historic Complex is one of Davis County’s oldest tourist attractions. It is located in the heart of Bloomfield, just one block on the east side of the square. The facility is full of Davis County history and can take anyone back to a time when things were much simpler.
The Davis County Historical Society was first incorporated in 1962. The facility is made up of local volunteers who work to preserve Davis County’s past for future generations. The local entity has flourished thanks to this work and the generous donations of those who want to see history preserved. Donations don’t just come in the form of cash, although cash donations are always appreciated and necessary to help the establishment survive. Almost every item, in the five buildings on the land, has been donated. This includes everything from medical equipment, farm tools, machinery, clothing, furniture, military uniforms and more.
The centerpiece of the complex is the two-story brick house of Dr. William Findley, which was built in 1867. It was the first building acquired by the Company. It has undergone extensive renovations, both inside and out, including the masonry of the chimney and restoration of the foundations. One of the highlights of the museum is a handmade piano built around 1849 and fully restored and donated by Howard and Daisy Selix. This piano is located in the music room. A piano from the same vintage, donated by the McGowen family, is also on display. The McGowen piano was the county’s first piano, traveling up the Mississippi River to Keokuk, the Des Moines River to Keosauqua, and finally by a team of mules to Davis County. In addition, on the ground floor are the living room, a “doctor’s office” with medical equipment and a kitchen of yesteryear.
Three bedrooms are located at the top of the extensively restored staircase. One piece contains military memorabilia, including a WWI blanket made by Martha Garrett, a nurse stationed in France, who acquired insignia from all Allied branches of service. Another bedroom features ladies’ clothing, sewing supplies, an Indian arrowhead display, a portrait of Chief Blackhawk and his son, and the story behind them. The third bedroom has many old quilts and vintage clothing. The house features 12 foot ceilings and period wallpaper in all rooms.
The second addition to the resort was the Mormon log cabin donated by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Harbor and moved to the land in 1971. The Mormons hand hewn walnut logs for this one room cabin which was built around 1848.
The next addition came in 1972 when the Livery Barn, built in 1920, was purchased and renovated to house the growing range of historic gifts. Notable items include many vintage tractors, a boxcar, old telephone switchboards, old wooden washing machines, items from well-known Davis County businesses, memorabilia from local sports teams, needles original courthouse clock and a mural depicting the 1864 guerrilla raid on Davis County, which was the northernmost point in the United States reached by Confederate raiders. The mural, painted by local artist Debbie Baughman, lasted 900 hours.
In 1974, the Wheeler Ridge Center 5 School in northwest Davis County was relocated. The one-room school is filled with tools of the trade, including a teacher’s desk, student desks, and a pot-bellied wood stove.
The Historical Society added the Old Savannah Christian Church to the complex in 1998. The church was built in 1902 and in use until the late 1990s. After extensive cooperation from various organizations and volunteers, the building was moved 10 miles onto its new foundation at the corner of Dodge and Walnut streets. It was in excellent condition and only needed minor repairs as well as a reconstruction of the steeple, which had to be knocked down in order to move. In 2017, two new stained glass windows were unveiled during a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Findley House. The church is currently used for special events.
A new section opened in the Livery Barn in 2017. This new section, made up of several kiosks, intrigues visitors interested in historic businesses, agriculture and the devices used in everyday life. Several exhibits show the progression of technology over the years.
The resort is expected to be open every Saturday from the first Saturday in June to the first Saturday in September. Hours are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The establishment’s telephone number is 641-664-1855. Visitors are encouraged to make an appointment to visit the museum complex at any time by calling 641-799-7463.
Anyone wishing more information about the resort is asked to contact Nancy Clancy at 641-799-7463, Cherri Casteel at 641-777-3848 or Ron Hewus at 515-720-6627.