The Historic Pella Trust celebrated their 25th Anniversary at the Pella Opera House on Oct. 10.

Community members gathered to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cake to celebrate the anniversary. The event was also combined with the Historic Pella Trust’s annual meeting.

“It’s amazing to see how our group has grown,” said Master of Ceremonies Bruce Haustein. “We’ve gone from our humble beginnings in a basement to having our own clubhouse in the oldest building in town.”

The Historic Pella Trust operates with the mission to protect and promote buildings, landscapes and sites that were important to the heritage of Pella.

Over the past 25 years, the trust has accomplished several feats to preserve Pella’s historical buildings. They were instrumental in getting seven protective conservation easements for buildings in town. These easements stay in place for the lifetime of the building, and prevent owners from changing the building’s exterior or tearing it down.

Bob Zylstra, President of the Historic Pella Trust, says the group wants to expand this work to additional properties in town. Over the past decade, the city has lost over 100 historic buildings and wants to prevent further loss.

“If we don’t find ways to encourage people to preserve, there won’t be any historic homes to talk about,” said Executive Director Jennifer Van Kooten.

Three years ago, the Historic Pella Trust acquired the Tuttle Cabin, the oldest building in town. The Tuttle Cabin serves as a learning center for local school children, as well as the location for the trust’s meetings. Their next project is centered around expanding tourism and learning opportunities at the Tuttle Cabin.

The Tuttle Learning Walk will feature a meandering sidewalk through a former city alley. Throughout the walking space, there will be a kiosk that features segments of Pella’s history. The completed project will be used as a tourist stop and education spot for children.

“We hope that this will become really quite a popular spot in town,” Zylstra said.

The $200,000 project is about halfway through the fundraising process. The group is planning for construction to begin in early 2020. They hope a majority of the project will be completed by Tulip Time.

The evening concluded with a presentation on South Pella by Dave Baker. Baker runs the Iowa history blog “The 29th State.” His presentation focused on South Pella history, as well as the preservation of historic Pella buildings.

Emma Skahill can be reached at eskahill@journalexpress.net or by calling the Knoxville newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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