On Dec. 1, 1887, Civil War veteran Amos Fox of Livermore was admitted to the Iowa Soldiers Home in Marshalltown.
From that day on, the facility would grow in the town's northwest quadrant and become an icon, sharing stature with Emerson Process Management/Fisher Controls, JBS, Lennox Manufacturing, Marshalltown Company, MMSC and others.
Fittingly, IVH staff and others will celebrate IVH's 125th anniversary at 10:30 a.m., Dec. 1 with a keynote address by Gov. Terry Branstad, remarks by state and local elected officials, a display of historic memorabilia and more.
T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
An aerial view of Marshalltown’s Iowa Veterans Home is shown. The campus spans nearly 150 acres with four main resident care buildings and several smaller, 60-bed units. The facility is the third largest of the 148-state owned veterans home in the U.S. It is currently home to approximately 620 residents with nearly 900 staff and an annual budget of more than $79 million.
"We will show a rolling video of IVH's history from 10 to 10:30 a.m.," said IVH staff assistant Mike Hines. "The national anthem will be played at 10:30 a.m. and the program will commence."
Overlooking the Iowa River, the facility has been called the Iowa Soldiers Home, Old Soldiers Home and Iowa Veterans Home, the later to reflect its census of all veterans.
"Iowa forgets not the defenders of the union" is IVH's motto, and its creation was driven by a need to take care of the state's many Civil War veterans and spouses - many who had fallen on hard times in an era preceding Social Security, the GI Bill and other legislation.
If you go ...
What: Event celebrating IVH's 125th anniversary. Gov. Terry Branstad to give keynote address. Public invited.
When: Dec. 1, 10:30 a.m.
Where: IVH's Malloy Leisure Resource Center, 1301 Summit St., Marshalltown
A bill establishing a soldiers home was passed by the state senate on March 25, 1886.
However, a group of Marshalltown civic leaders, led by businessman Richard E. Sears and George Glick, had been prepared.
Memories of a failed effort years previously to secure Marshalltown as the state capital had lingered, so much the community had not made an effort to secure a small land grant college. That institution later became Iowa State University.
Regardless, Sears, Glick and team worked in advance of the state soldiers home formal decision, promoting their bid and it bore fruit.
On May 4, 1886, a telegram was received announcing Marshalltown had won out, beating out Dubuque by a vote of 6 to 5.
"By nightfall, hundreds of people were marching up and down Main Street, led by the city band and Salvation Army troops, along with members of Company D, a militia unit that was forerunner of the local National Guard unit," wrote the late newspaperman and author Biff Dysart in his "Marshalltown and Central Iowa Past Times," historic tome.
"Revelers carried their bottles with them into the street, toasts and cheers were offered everywhere, an as darkness settled over the city most of the celebrants had gathered a the Woodbury Building for celebratory speeches."
Army veteran David Worley was appointed commandant by then Gov. Chet Culver in June, 2010.
He outlined recent accomplishments and challenges facing IVH.
"We're moving to a more home-based model rather than a large-building model," he said.
Several smaller, street level units have been built, some housing up to 60 veterans.
One was named in honor of Fox.
"We will be faced with a totally different set of challenges in the years to come," Worley said. "We have a 110-year old building, Heinz Hall, which is home to many. And the needs of veterans from the War on Terror are significantly different from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Veterans from the War on Terror have experienced loss of limbs or suffered stress from combat. We must be prepared to deal with the future challenges, whatever they may be."
IVH policies are established by the Iowa Legislature and Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs. Worley and staff carry out directives.
"IVH's history in Marshalltown and in the state is unique," Hines said. 'Consequently, in addition to the video, we will have other historic displays near Malloy Hall. The anniversary program will be a very special event - fitting for veterans past and present."