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Saint Ansgar

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On entering town from the northwest on Iowa 105, one will encounter the First Lutheran Church (1864) on the west side of Main Street at Second Street. The general proportions of this stone church with a gable roof hark back to the Greek Revival, though its pointed windows and other details are Gothic. The form of the church includes a lower projecting gable section to the front, then the higher body of the church, and finally an octagonal belfry and spire placed upon a square tower base. In the public park north of Third Street, between George and Washington streets, is a hemispherical bandstand (c. 1938) similar to others constructed in Iowa through PWA funding.

At the northeast corner of West Fourth and Mitchel streets is the Ansgar State Bank. The first section of the bank was built in 1891. This was a two-story Richardsonian exercise in brick and red sandstone. In 1970 the architect Edward Novak added a substantial single-floor addition. The new work mirrored the sandstone Romanesque arches of the original building, and on the top of the parapet Novak placed an iron railing with a repeat of the arches.

Finally, on the north side of Fourth Street, east of School Street, is the Bridle Theater (c. 1937). The touch of design genius of this thirties Moderne building shows up in the pair of mobile, tinselly palm trees on the top edge of the marquee.

Off South Main Street in a southwesterly direction is the Saint Ansgar Mill. The two-story wood-sheathed mill building was constructed in 1861. The initial power source was a water wheel, but this was later replaced by a water turbine. The accompanying concrete dam across the Cedar River was built in 1915.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim

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