Ames Historical Society

Ames Historical Society Ames Historical Society is located in downtown Ames, IA. The Society operates daily to engage a diverse public and provide unique opportunities to learn about Ames history.

Ames Historical Society's main activities are to: Preserve Ames history - The Society collects archival material and artifacts to document city government, schools, businesses, organizations, residents, transportation and events and celebrations throughout Ames history. Provide reference service - Questions come to us daily by email, correspondence, phone and walk-in traffic. Historical resources transferred to us from the Ames Public Library over the past few years now allow us to answer most incoming inquiries. The massive photo archive of the Ames Tribune coupled with our own extensive photo collection allow us to supply images to individuals, businesses and media organizations. Besides photos, our collections of maps, directories, school yearbooks, newspapers, building plans, Multiple Listing Service and WWII Story County veterans’ service records enable us to serve hundreds of visitors and clients annually. Maintain a website - The “virtual” concept for sharing our collections is well illustrated by our website containing over 7,000 pages of content available 24/7/365 to anyone with connectivity. The site averages over one gigabyte of traffic daily, generating requests for further information and donations as well. Operate a one-room school museum - Hoggatt School was the first schoolhouse in the vicinity. It was built in 1861-1862 to serve residents before the city of Ames was established. The acquisition, move and restoration of this school were the driving forces in the founding of the society. In 1981, the log-frame building was moved to its present location on the grounds of Meeker School. Furnishings, fixtures, textbooks and other artifacts reflect the period of the 1860s. The school is open to the public on Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. during the summer, June 1st to August 31st, and is available for pre-arranged visits from April 1st to October 31st. Visitors can sit at desks, write on slates, view a typical day’s schedule or read a McGuffey’s reader to gain a feeling for nineteenth-century education. Publish a quarterly newsletter for members - A typical issue contains news of past and future activities, readers’ mail and recollections, collection additions, website enhancements and special articles (sometimes written by members or guest authors). Provide photos to the Ames Tribune - The weekly “From the Archives” photo series has been running since 2006. Residents and non-residents alike express appreciation for these popular reminders of Ames life in days past. All images and related supplementary material are archived on our website. Loan exhibits - At various times staff members have created a variety of exhibits that can be loaned at no charge to Ames organizations. Exhibits consist of photographs, copies of original documents, and text mounted on art-board panels. Topics include: Ames Names, Main Street Stories, Carr’s Pool, The Railroad in Ames, Billy Sunday, and many others. Present programs - Local organizations may request programs on a number of specific topics. Presentations frequently combine PowerPoint images with objects. A monthly winter lecture series is open to the general public from January through April. Topics have included: All the Smoke and Cinders You’ll Ever Want: Ames & College Railway’s “Dinkey,” Historical Whatchamacallits & Thingamajigs, The McFarland Clinic Story, The Carr Family and Carr’s Pool, and Who Killed Henry Chavis? A presentation specialty has evolved in our customized PowerPoint shows given as banquet programs for Ames High School class reunions. Images from our collections are combined with scanned, class-supplied photos to prompt nostalgic recollections and audience interaction. In 2011, 50 presentations were attended by over 1900 people. Give tours - An historic walk through downtown Ames is conducted on demand throughout the year except during the winter season. Iconic personages, former businesses and historic buildings are emphasized. Multi-page brochures are available for self-guided historical tours of either the downtown business district or the Old Town housing district. Educate youth - Primary school children cannot always make field trips to our headquarters, so staff takes selected objects and archival material to the classrooms. This effort complements the Ames School District third grade unit on local history. Cub Scout dens delight in the hands-on experience given onsite by our youth specialist. By engaging this age group with activities that are both fun and educational, a new generation is cultivated that values the contributions of the past and views local history as important. Middle school, high school and college students also make use of our resources for special projects, such as National History Day projects. Cooperate with other cultural organizations - The society maintains a close working relationship with its companion organizations in the Main Street Cultural District: the Ames Public Library (APL) and The Octagon Center for the Arts. Special programs are co-sponsored annually with the Library and on-going consultation occurs regarding collection development and reference questions. Interaction with the Octagon staff centers on exhibits, preservation and storage issues. Other organizations outside the District also benefit from our collections. Iowa State University’s Brunnier Art Museum has received loans of artwork for exhibit and Des Moines University Library has an indefinite loan of medical equipment used by an Ames osteopath. The State Historical Society of Iowa and the African-American Museum of Iowa recently displayed images provided by us for their exhibits. Sell publications and gift items - The museum shop focuses on titles illuminating Ames history. In-print items include all of Farwell Brown’s books and two different walking tour brochures: History Walk Through Downtown Ames and Old Town Historic District. Out-of-print titles are also available such as: Ames Centennial History (1964). Popular gift items are postcards of historic Ames images, slate boards and pencils, “clickers,” and Dinkey T-shirts.

Who remembers the H Tree? A life-sized cutout of the tree is featured in our current exhibit!The tree was a graft of two...
04/30/2019

Who remembers the H Tree? A life-sized cutout of the tree is featured in our current exhibit!

The tree was a graft of two elms, located on the banks of the Skunk River north of Ames.

"Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive" will be on display until August 3. The History Center is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10-4.

Here is a watch fob from the 1800s. Can you guess what it’s made of? … Human hair! Hair art was a popular way to rem...
04/19/2019

Here is a watch fob from the 1800s. Can you guess what it’s made of? … Human hair! Hair art was a popular way to remember loved ones throughout much of the nineteenth century. There were many different ways people would use hair to commemorate the dead such as watch fobs, bracelets, floral-like arrangements, decorative shapes beside a picture of the loved one, and many more. Have you ever seen hair art before? Leave a comment with your story!

#artifactspotlight #fromthecollection

Briley’s Pond on the Iowa State campus was formed after removal of clay to make bricks for campus buildings, primarily...
04/16/2019

Briley’s Pond on the Iowa State campus was formed after removal of clay to make bricks for campus buildings, primarily the Farm House. This low area naturally filled up with water to form a small pond. The white house to the right still stands on Oakland Avenue. The pond, which no longer exists today, was the site for the annual tug-of-war between freshman and sophomore classes. This photo shows the competition in 1909 or 1910.

This photo is featured as part of our current exhibit, "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive," on display until August 3. The full photo archive is available at https://www.amespubliclibrary.org/learn-explo…/local-history

This day in Ames history, April 14, 1975: Winners of the Miss Iowa pageant gather around the newly crowned Kathie Duggan...
04/14/2019

This day in Ames history, April 14, 1975:

Winners of the Miss Iowa pageant gather around the newly crowned Kathie Duggan, a senior at Iowa State and captain of the pom-pom team, studying to become a biology teacher. Pictured, from left; Barbara Bardole, third runner up; Kathie Duggan, Miss Iowa; Cannie Eeif, Miss Illinois and mistress of ceremonies; Renee Birkicht, first runner up; Sharon Hanian, second runner up, and Jean Abernathy, fourth runner up. Kathie went onto compete in the Miss USA contest in New York.

Visit the Ames History Center to view on display the trophy and dress from the 1938 Miss Ames contest, the first beauty contest of its kind in Ames.

Farwell Brown won this trophy in a Lions Club bird house contest in 1926.Stop by to see the trophy along with a photo of...
04/02/2019

Farwell Brown won this trophy in a Lions Club bird house contest in 1926.

Stop by to see the trophy along with a photo of the bird houses as part of our current exhibit. "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive" will be on display until August 3. The History Center is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10-4.

Our current exhibit features 50 photos collected by Farwell Brown, Ames historian and founder of the historical society....
03/31/2019

Our current exhibit features 50 photos collected by Farwell Brown, Ames historian and founder of the historical society. This photo from the exhibit shows a pair of Belgian horses greeting folks arriving at Marston Hall on the Iowa State campus the morning of March 6, 1939, 80 years ago this month. This prank by the initiates of Alpha Zeta fraternity got them into some hot water. President Friley was overwrought! "It has taken years for us to get rid of the "cow college image,” he was reported as saying, "and you have undone all our efforts in one night.”

Visit the History Center to see "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive" through August 3.

Our annual report is now available for 2018. It was a busy year for staff and volunteers! See the full report here: http...
03/28/2019

Our annual report is now available for 2018. It was a busy year for staff and volunteers! See the full report here: https://tinyurl.com/yy2fgjuu

Iowa State College students scurry to cross the Dinkey tracks ahead of its arrival in 1904. Morrill Hall is visible at t...
03/19/2019

Iowa State College students scurry to cross the Dinkey tracks ahead of its arrival in 1904. Morrill Hall is visible at the right with the Dinkey’s western terminal, The Hub, just beyond. The Hub was moved to the west and has been extensively remodeled, but still has its distinctive awning.

This photo is featured as part of our current exhibit, "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive," on display until August 3. The full photo archive is available at https://www.amespubliclibrary.org/learn-explore/local-history

Today in Ames history: 150 years ago, on March 17, 1869, the first classes started at Iowa Agricultural College. The sch...
03/17/2019

Today in Ames history: 150 years ago, on March 17, 1869, the first classes started at Iowa Agricultural College. The school opened with 192 students enrolled. Iowa State’s current largest lecture hall in Hoover Hall has a capacity of over 400. In the early years, campus was a teaching farm with the Farm House (top right) completed in 1865. Old Main (bottom) was completed the year before enrollment in 1868. This image is an etching from the 1875 Andreas Atlas of Iowa.

This wood block pulley, on display in our current exhibit, is from Cole Construction. Cole-built structures in Ames incl...
03/05/2019

This wood block pulley, on display in our current exhibit, is from Cole Construction. Cole-built structures in Ames include the Grand Avenue underpass, the current City Hall building, Cranford Apartments, and the Main Street building where Gilger Designs now resides.

Stop by to see this artifact and the rest of the exhibit! "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive" will be on display until August 3. The History Center is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10-4.

Early camera technology made capturing interior photographs difficult. Early flash powder proved dangerous and results v...
02/19/2019

Early camera technology made capturing interior photographs difficult. Early flash powder proved dangerous and results varied. It was not until the 1930s when a dependable flashbulb replaced flash powder. Interior images of stores give us a better idea of the day to day life of people in Ames.

Hutchinson’s store was located in the unincorporated town of Ontario. It sold everything from groceries to dry goods and clothing. It originally opened in 1890 and had several owners before Ed Hutchinson bought out his partner in 1903. He operated it until 1916 when he replaced it with a new store. Ontario was annexed into the city of Ames in 1962.

This photo is featured as part of our current exhibit, "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive," on display until August 3. The full photo archive is available at https://www.amespubliclibrary.org/learn-explo…/local-history

This day in Ames history, February 10, 1977, seven Ames firefighters were injured and property damage totaled more than ...
02/10/2019

This day in Ames history, February 10, 1977, seven Ames firefighters were injured and property damage totaled more than $315,000 in an early morning fire, which destroyed Butch Cassidy’s Saloon at 123 Kellogg Ave. The cause of the fire was not determined but Fire Chief Ralph Parks said when he arrived the west and north doors to the building were wide open and “conditions were such that we are investigating.” Fire damage was so bad that Cy’s Roost, the bar next door, was demolished. Ames Tribune photo.

Farwell Brown's top hat is featured in our current exhibit. This hat belonged to his grandfather, K.W. Brown, and Farwel...
02/05/2019

Farwell Brown's top hat is featured in our current exhibit. This hat belonged to his grandfather, K.W. Brown, and Farwell was often seen wearing it himself.

Stop by to see this hat and the rest of the exhibit! "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive" will be on display until August 3. The History Center is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10-4.

We'll be closed on Wednesday, January 30 due to the dangerously cold temperatures. We plan to reopen for regular hours o...
01/29/2019

We'll be closed on Wednesday, January 30 due to the dangerously cold temperatures. We plan to reopen for regular hours on Thursday.

Mike Roemig holds the 10 pin that cost him a 300 game at Twentieth Century Lanes. The Ames bowler left the pin standing ...
01/27/2019

Mike Roemig holds the 10 pin that cost him a 300 game at Twentieth Century Lanes. The Ames bowler left the pin standing on his final ball and finished with a 299 game. The 194 average bowler rolled a 676 series. Twentieth Century Bowling was Ames’ first modern bowling alley. It was constructed in 1949 and was destroyed by the 2010 flood. Published in the Ames Tribune January 27, 1976.

Ames physician, S.J. Starr, built the Octagon House in the 1870s. Its unique shape allowed the use of less wood and more...
01/24/2019

Ames physician, S.J. Starr, built the Octagon House in the 1870s. Its unique shape allowed the use of less wood and more efficient heating. It was the first home of the Octagon Center for the Arts, which still carries its name. The Octagon House was burned as a fire training exercise in 1982.

This photo is featured as part of our current exhibit, "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive," on display until August 3. The full photo archive is available at https://www.amespubliclibrary.org/learn-explore/local-history

The Ames History Center will be closed today, January 22, due to the weather. Stay safe out there, everyone!
01/22/2019

The Ames History Center will be closed today, January 22, due to the weather. Stay safe out there, everyone!

Broken road signs show the path of a semi-trailer truck, which went off Iowa 210 at the I-35 intersection near Huxley. T...
01/20/2019

Broken road signs show the path of a semi-trailer truck, which went off Iowa 210 at the I-35 intersection near Huxley. The truck, driven by Richard Kokenmuller, Ankeny, was loaded with 9,000 pounds of groceries destined for Carroll and Denison. The Iowa State Trooper investigating the accident said the truck driver apparently became confused as he came off I-35 and drove across the state highway into the ditch, where the truck turned onto its side. Published in the Ames Tribune January 20, 1977.

The Ames Public Library has a lovely new website! https://www.amespubliclibrary.org/Be sure to check out the Farwell T. ...
01/09/2019
Home | Ames Public Library

The Ames Public Library has a lovely new website! https://www.amespubliclibrary.org/

Be sure to check out the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive and the digitized Ames Tribune, both located under Learn & Explore > Local History.

Today's Hours: 9:00am - 9:00pm Ames Public Library 515-239-5646 515 Douglas Avenue Ames, IA 50010 See map: Google Maps Sun: 1:00pm-5:00pm Mon: 9:00am-9:00pm Tue: 9:00am-9:00pm Wed: 9:00am-9:00pm Thu: 9:00am-9:00pm Fri: 9:00am-6:00pm Sat: 9:00am-6:00pm

Our current exhibit includes reproduced stereoscope cards taken by Martin Morrison. Morrison was an Ames photographer in...
01/08/2019

Our current exhibit includes reproduced stereoscope cards taken by Martin Morrison. Morrison was an Ames photographer in the late 1800s, and often traveled back and forth between Ames and his hometown in Norway.

Stop by to view these neat 3D images and see the rest of the exhibit! "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive" will be on display until August. The History Center is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10-4.

An annual tradition in the Ames Tribune was announcing the first baby born in the New Year. Little Miss New Year of 1949...
01/06/2019

An annual tradition in the Ames Tribune was announcing the first baby born in the New Year. Little Miss New Year of 1949 was Pauletta Marie Clark, daughter of Paul and Ruth Clark, of rural Ames. She weighed eight pounds, four ounces when she was born at 1:33 P.M. New Year’s Day.

Photo published in the Ames Tribune, January 6, 1949.

Today is #nationaltriviaday! Here's an Ames history trivia question for you:An important early settler to the area was C...
01/04/2019

Today is #nationaltriviaday! Here's an Ames history trivia question for you:

An important early settler to the area was Cynthia Duff. She assisted the railroad with acquiring the land needed to plat the original town, owned a restaurant on Main Street with her husband, Alexander, and helped start the first church in Ames. Duff Avenue was named after Cynthia, and another street in the downtown area was also named for her – using her maiden name. What was Cynthia Duff’s maiden name?

The Harris TV building at 335 Lincoln Way is being demolished today. They were in business for over 60 years. Here are s...
12/14/2018

The Harris TV building at 335 Lincoln Way is being demolished today. They were in business for over 60 years. Here are some photos from their grand opening in November 1956.

Ames Tribune photos.

Our newest exhibit at the History Center is "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photog...
12/11/2018

Our newest exhibit at the History Center is "Exploring Historic Ames: Unique Selections from the Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive," on display until August 2019. It features photos collected by Farwell Brown, Ames historian and founder of the historical society. The photos on display were chosen from the collection based on their ability to place visitors in the past.

Featured photos include early interiors of Ames businesses, stereoscope images taken by Martin Morrison, and a life-sized replica of the H-tree, which serves as a photo op for visitors.

The exhibit is presented in partnership with the Ames Public Library, which hosts the full photo collection on its website.

Stop by to see the exhibit at the Ames History Center, Tuesday through Saturday, 10am-4pm!

Our Members After Hours event last night was lots of fun! Members had the chance to see our newest exhibit, and the top ...
11/30/2018

Our Members After Hours event last night was lots of fun! Members had the chance to see our newest exhibit, and the top hat cookies were delicious!

Become a member and join in on these events! We host Members After Hours twice a year. http://www.ameshistory.org/content/become-member

Today, on #givingtuesday, consider donating to Ames Historical Society to help us fulfill our mission to provide unique ...
11/27/2018

Today, on #givingtuesday, consider donating to Ames Historical Society to help us fulfill our mission to provide unique opportunities to learn about Ames history!

We are the only organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Ames. Donations provide for day-to-day work, including new exhibits, lecture series, kids' programs, and research assistance.

Donate here: http://www.ameshistory.org/content/donate-society

ISU Naval ROTC Midshipman Bob McFarlin, dressed in the uniform of a Colonial Army Soldier, displays one of the flags fro...
11/11/2018

ISU Naval ROTC Midshipman Bob McFarlin, dressed in the uniform of a Colonial Army Soldier, displays one of the flags from the American Revolutionary era while Marine 1 Sgt. James Mallini of the NROTC staff explains the origin of the flag to students at Mitchell Elementary School. Photo published in the Ames Tribune, November 11, 1975.

Iowa State University Department of History
11/06/2018

Iowa State University Department of History

On 5 November 2018, the History Department joined with the First Amendment Committee of the Greenlee School, the Ames Public Library, and the Ames Historical Society to host Eric Schmalz from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at a series of events at Iowa State and in Ames. Mr. Schmalz is Community Director of History Unfolded: U.S Newspapers and the Holocaust. He visited three classes on campus and gave a public lecture at the Ames Public Library, “‘The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown’: Newspapers, Op-Eds, and American Responses to Antisemitism.”

Did you know? Football helmets were not made mandatory by the National Federation of State High School Associations unti...
11/06/2018

Did you know? Football helmets were not made mandatory by the National Federation of State High School Associations until 1935.

Visit the History Center to see these pieces of leather football gear and many more sports-related artifacts as part of the "Hometown Teams" exhibit, on display until November 11!

Eight years ago, the old downtown Fareway building was demolished. The First Methodist Church purchased the lot.  A larg...
11/04/2018

Eight years ago, the old downtown Fareway building was demolished. The First Methodist Church purchased the lot. A large new entrance addition to the church was constructed and additional parking was added. Last month Fareway announced they would be building a new downtown store in Ames.

Did you know? The freshman and sophomore classes at Iowa State used to match up for an annual scrap, playing tug-of-war ...
10/30/2018

Did you know? The freshman and sophomore classes at Iowa State used to match up for an annual scrap, playing tug-of-war at Briley's Pond west of campus, or pushball as shown in this early-1900s photo, courtesy of Dee Dreeszen.

Pushball was played by teams of 50 students with a ball 6 feet in diameter. In a 1909 matchup at State Field, the sophomores beat the freshmen, 10-1.

Visit the History Center to see this photo and many more sports-related photos and artifacts as part of the "Hometown Teams" exhibit, on display until November 11!

“You go where the voters are.” This truism of politics applies equally to people seeking voter registrations. George...
10/28/2018

“You go where the voters are.” This truism of politics applies equally to people seeking voter registrations. George Palmer and Cathy Rathke (at left) decided their best option was to set up information at a tavern in Ames. Here they are registering Joan McDowell and Bill Coan (at right). Photo published in the Ames Tribune, October 28, 1974.

Did you know? The Iowa State sports teams were known as "Ames" until 1929, and student athletes even received "A" patche...
10/23/2018

Did you know? The Iowa State sports teams were known as "Ames" until 1929, and student athletes even received "A" patches for their letter sweaters instead of "I" patches.

Visit the History Center to see this 1920s football sweater and many more sports-related artifacts as part of the "Hometown Teams" exhibit, on display until November 11!

Did you ever participate in town or merchant baseball/softball teams?Carriage House Meats sponsored a fast-pitch softbal...
10/16/2018

Did you ever participate in town or merchant baseball/softball teams?

Carriage House Meats sponsored a fast-pitch softball team in the 1970s. Games were played at River Valley Park.

Visit the History Center to see this uniform and many more sports-related artifacts as part of the "Hometown Teams" exhibit, on display until November 11!

POSTPONED UNTIL SPRING! The Cemetery Walk has now been postponed until next spring. A date will be announced in early 20...
10/16/2018

POSTPONED UNTIL SPRING! The Cemetery Walk has now been postponed until next spring. A date will be announced in early 2019.

Did you know? Nile Kinnick Sr. (father of Nile Kinnick Jr. after whom the University of Iowa stadium is named) played fo...
10/09/2018

Did you know? Nile Kinnick Sr. (father of Nile Kinnick Jr. after whom the University of Iowa stadium is named) played football at Iowa State. Kinnick Sr. is shown at the bottom center of this football button from 1913.

Visit the History Center to see the button and many more sports-related artifacts as part of the "Hometown Teams" exhibit, on display until November 11!

Did you participate in 6 on 6 basketball? Did you cheer on your local team? Join us for this event tomorrow and share yo...
10/05/2018

Did you participate in 6 on 6 basketball? Did you cheer on your local team? Join us for this event tomorrow and share your stories and photos!

Ames Public Library Danfoss Room (2nd floor)
10:00-10:30am - Presentation by exhibit curators
10:30am-2:00pm - Collecting day - share your photos, scrapbooks, programs, clippings, memorabilia, and stories with the Iowa Women's Archive

What is your 6-on-6 Basketball story? We invite you to share your stories and photos Saturday Oct 6, 10am to 2pm with the Iowa Women's Archives. This is part of the Ames Smithsonian speaker series. Be sure to visit all of the exhibits through Nov 11! Get more info at amessmithsonian.org #MainStreet #smithsonian #AlwaysAmes

Did you know? The Ames History Center is open extended hours for the duration of the "Hometown Teams" exhibit!Monday - S...
10/01/2018

Did you know? The Ames History Center is open extended hours for the duration of the "Hometown Teams" exhibit!

Monday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm
Sunday, 1-5pm

Stop down to see it before November 11. And make sure to visit the other four locations with corresponding exhibits. A brochure is available at each location with a map to make sure you hit them all!

Address

416 Douglas Ave, Ste 101
Ames, IA
50010-6273

General information

Mission Statement: Our mission is to engage our diverse public and provide unique opportunities to learn about Ames history. We carry out this mission by: - maintaining an archive, artifact collection and website; - providing research assistance, exhibits, tours, programs and publications; - and operating an 1860s one-room schoolhouse museum.

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 16:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 16:00
Thursday 10:00 - 16:00
Friday 10:00 - 16:00
Saturday 10:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(515) 232-2148

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Ames Historical Society posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Ames Historical Society:

Videos

Category

Nearby museums