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West Chester

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The 1867 Gracehill Moravian Church is situated southwest of West Chester. (Drive west of town on Iowa 92, turn south on county road 114; proceed 5 miles to the small community of Grace Hill.) This church is one of seven or more built by the Moravian Church in Iowa. The wood clapboard church conveys the impression that it is of the Greek Revival style, even though there are no explicit Greek details. The format of the church is that of two volumes with gable roofs, brought together at their gables ends. The steeply pitched roof is surmounted at the entrance by a two-tiered series of gabled boxes, and these in turn are topped by a small spire. Adjacent to the church is the cemetery, which was also laid out in 1867.

Returning to West Chester, take route W38 which leads to the southeast edge of town; proceed 3.25 miles to the Isaac Kleese Farm Complex. Here one will discover a group of rural buildings that provide a nearly perfect picture of an Iowa farm of the late nineteenth century. The modest one-and-a-half-story farmhouse was built in 1872, and most of the other buildings (with the exception of the principal barn, which was built in 1893) were constructed at just about the same time. In approaching the complex one first encounters a trimmed hedge fence of Osage orange, behind which is the remains of the orchard. Beyond the end of the hedge is the farm road. To the left of this is the house, behind which is located the smokehouse, a chicken house, the privy, a wood shed, a granary, then a blacksmith shop. On the right side of the farm road is the well and windmill, the corncrib, and beyond these the hog house and the 1893 barn. All of the buildings have simple gable or shed roofs and are sheathed in vertical or horizontal wood.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim

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