Charles City, Iowa Public Library Cornerstone Photos

A Century Later

The cornerstone of the CharlEs City Public Library was opened during the centennial celebration of the building in 2004. Now homE to the CharlEs City Arts Center, many were interEsted to see what was encapsulatEd in The coRnerstone when the building was constructed in 1904

Of course, an architect's drawing of the building was included in the time capsule. That photo is the one used on the title page.

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City Fathers

Hildreth Hotel

Several photos of notable public figures were included in the cornerstone. Among these is the builder of the Hildreth hotel and Opera House, the honorable A.B.F. Hildreth. While not the best photo of the hotel we have seen, it is the one that was encapsulated in the cornerstone.

A.B.F . Hildreth

Also preserved for posterity was a photo of Dr. Joel W. Smith. As you can tell from the notes on the back of his photo, he was held in high regard in the community.

Dr. Joel W. Smith

Dr. Joel Smith constructed the building seen in the next photo. It is thought that Dr. Smith may be the individual in the buggy shown in front of the building. None of the people in the photo were identified.

Northwest Corner of Clark & Main Street

Additionally, a photo of Dr. Irving W. Smith was included. He was the eldest son of Dr. Joel Smith. From the notes on the back of both photos, it seems that both of the Drs. Smith were very interested in public education.

Dr. Irving W. Smith

Charles City High School

A photo of the Charles city high school was preserved as well. This building stood on the North Grand Avenue lot where the current Middle School is located. This structure burned down in a fire on March 25, 1931. If one looks carefully, one can see "THE SAFEGUARD OF OUR NATION" inscribed at the top of the building just as it is on the current Middle School (originally built to replace this structure). This photo was dated 1901.

Business District Views

Heavy Snow on 200 Block of North Main Street

This snowy main street scene is of the 200 block looking north. Along the left-hand side of the photo, one can see a LEATHER STORE and Harness Shop which still stands. It was last the home of the Home Base Lounge and is currently vacant. The Hardware store sign is on the recently vacated Dean Jewelers location. One can see the old bank building on the corner of Kelly & Main Street where Dean Jewelers has reopened recently. The two-story building in the distance later became the site of the Hildreth hotel.

300 block of North Main

300 Block of North Main Street (across from Central Park)

Across from Central Park, one sees the businesses that existed at that time. Sadly, none of these buildings have survived. If one looks closely, The Sportsmens Emporium, Rozienne's Real Estate / Loan Office, Howard & Son (drugs, books, wallpaper) a Bakery & Restaurant and what appears to be a furniture store can be seen. Other businesses are there as well, including one selling headstones and monuments it appears. It is interesting to note all of the horses and buggies tied up along the wooden sidewalk by the city park.

Ellis Block (1904)

Ellis Block

Another photo identified as the Ellis block was included in the cornerstone. The business on the corner is the F. Blumenstiel & Co. One may have noticed that many of the photos found in the time capsule were taken by The Blumenstiel and Smith Studio of Charles City.

Ellis & Ellis Block

Ellis & Ellis Block

This photo was identified as the Ellis and Ellis block. Note the Ruste Company housed on the left side of the building. The middle portion was home to the Secrurity Trust & Savings Bank - forerunner to the current 1st Security Bank and Trust.

Main Street Bridge

Iron Main Street Bridge Over the Cedar River

This early photo of the main Street bridge was included in the time capsule as well. Note the wooden mill on the corner of Main and Riverside (site of a park currently). Also, note all the vegetation growing in the riverbed.

Court House

Floyd County Court House

Here we have a shot of the stone courthouse in Floyd County. Note the child sitting in the forefront and other figures in the photo near the building. This seems to be a very rare photo of this particular courthouse. Fortunately, the builders of the Public Library saw it appropriate to include this photo in the time capsule so that we can enjoy it today.

Someone had to build it!

Contractor business card

Finally, we see a business card from the H.E. Potter Contracting Company of Charles City, Iowa. It seems a fitting way to end this collection of photos the builders felt were appropriate to include in the time capsule secured in the cornerstone of the building.

Created By
Larry Michehl
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