You are here


-A A +A

A mile west of the Cedar River town of Nashua (on Iowa 346) is one of Iowa's most popular monuments, the Little Brown Church in the Vale. The church became known through the popular hymn “The Church in the Wildwood,” written by William S. Pitts in the late 1850s after he visited the site of the church in 1857. The church itself was supposedly built on the very spot described by Pitts. It was designed by the Rev. J. K. Nutting and built during the years 1860–1864. The church building is a simple clapboard structure with an entrance tower at one end. Pointed arched windows and doors suggest that the building design was derived from the Gothic tradition. The church was located in the now nonexistent community of Bradford, a settlement has been reconstituted recently as the Bradford Pioneer Village, located down the street. The village consists of a number of historic and reconstructed buildings, including a railroad depot, a country schoolhouse, and a three-room cottage. Perhaps the best summation of the church and the village is the wonderful little model of the church, which stands in the parking lot.

Returning to Nashua, if one travels 2 miles west on route B60 one will come to the Brooks Round Barn (c. 1914). This barn with a double-pitched gambrel roof has walls of terracotta tile. Inside, at the center, is a silo that rises to the roof. The building measures 60 feet in diameter, and the silo is 16 feet across. In addition to the large doors, there are 21 windows.

Proceeding this time 5 miles south of Nashua on US 218, one will find an octagonal wooden barn dating from 1887. The building has a cone-shaped roof, and at one time it was probably surmounted by either a cupola or a windmill.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.