Though founded in the late 1850s on the southeast bank of the Maple River, Ida Grove has the atmosphere of a town that evolved between the 1960s and the present. The person responsible for its contemporary form is Byron God-bersen, the owner of Midwest Industries, a company that manufactures farm and marine equipment. 6God-bersen has acted essentially as both designer and client for these buildings at Ida Grove. He has apparently garnered his design ideas from popular magazines, as well as from travels to Mexico and Europe. As one drives into the town from the east on Iowa 175, one encounters a new single-family housing development composed of large parcels of land. Dominating this landscape is God-bersen's own house (1976), presumably a version of a Spanish Mediterranean house. Joined to this composition of tile roofs, stucco walls, and arches is a theme that recurs again and again in Ida Grove—the lighthouse. This image is repeated at the gated entrance to the development, accompanied by a low arch that springs directly from the ground.
On the other side of Iowa 175 is Lake LaJune (created in 1969 and named for God-bersen's wife, LaJune). Floating tranquilly in the water is a half-scale replica of HMS Bounty. (God-bersen obtained the plans for the ship from the MGM movie studio, and it was launched in 1970.) At the end of this manmade lake is a second form that fascinated God-bersen, the castellated medieval castle. Here castellated towers protect and enclose a convention center (1974). Adjacent to the center is an airplane runway and a hangar (1967); it too is in the castellated style (note that a large tile mosaic depicting the voyage of the Bountyis on the floor of the hangar).
Proceeding into town one will come across a castle tower as the “city marker” (1971). Within the town other buildings carry on the idiom—the castellated medieval castle appears on a lonely bridge in the middle of a golf course, in small and large shopping centers, and in the Ida County Courier / Reminder Building ( MW059). Other medieval and Hispanic structures are the Midway Industries Factory Building (1954–1956), the Skate Palace (1982), and Legion Park (1983). Don't miss the community's medieval McDonald's.
On one of the highest hills in Ida Grove is the Ida County Courthouse (1880–1883), at 401 Moorehead Street. The architects, J. P. Bryant, D. W. Townsend, and J. M. Starbuck, provided the community with a tall, narrow, brick Italianate design modified with Eastlake details. The principal entrance is at the base of a hundred-foot square tower, topped by a double-pitched spirelike roof.
Perched on the side of a hill at the southwest corner of Burns and Fourth streets is a large two-story Craftsman house enshrouded by trees and shrubs. The first floor, encased in brick, presents a glassed-in arcade; above, the many bedroom windows are arranged as a horizontal band within the clapboard walls. The third-floor gable is treated in stucco and half-timbering with accompanying large-scaled brackets supporting the overhang of the roof.
Jolene Stevens, “Fantasy World in Ida Grove.”
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