Preserving A Small Iowa Town’s Cultural Heritage

Yesterday at a book talk in Riceville, Iowa, library director Betsy Morse showed me a local artifact preserved and on display. What a heritage for this small northern Iowa town. Although we live only half an hour away, I was not aware of this tribute to an early Riceville citizen’s foresight.

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The people of Riceville own this curtain, and five more used on the Brown Opera building stage, built after a fire devastated the town in 1901.

Frank A. Brown, livery merchant and hardware owner, added the Riceville community room above his store, and townsfolk enjoyed many events here. These hand-painted stage curtains were installed at some point and the room was decorated with stencil art.

Obviously the library views this work of art with great pride, and rightly so! The carefully preserved pull-down curtains stand as a great example of a small town preserving its artistic and culture heritage.

For views of the other five curtains people enjoyed as backdrops for plays and during intermissions, see the Riceville Public Library website.

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