Muscatine Art Center to restore Japanese garden


DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced $600,000 in grants for historic preservation projects in or near Creston, Decorah, Elkader, Keokuk and Muscatine.

Iowa’s Rural Heritage Revitalization Grants will help rural communities preserve their history and foster economic development through the preservation of historic properties. The grants are funded by the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service and administered by the State Historic Preservation Office, which is part of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

“This was a great opportunity to collaborate with our federal partner, the National Park Service, to support historic preservation projects, boost economic opportunities and promote a sense of local pride in communities across the state,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “Revitalizing these historic icons will better showcase the authentic character of rural Iowa and will benefit generations to come.”

The department created the grant program last fall, after Iowa became one of just eight states to receive funding through the National Park Service’s Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants program. The federal program was named in honor of an influential preservationist in Vermont and designed to support states, tribes, local governments and nonprofit organizations that own properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Following is a description of the Muscatine grant:

Recipients: City of Muscatine and the Muscatine Art Center

Project: 1929 Japanese Garden at the Laura Musser McColm Historic District

Grant Amount: $122,402

The Muscatine Art Center will restore the historic 1929 Japanese Garden at the Laura Musser McColm Historic District. Although Japanese-style gardens were popular in the United States from the 1890s through the early 1940s, most were destroyed during World War II. Spared this fate, the Japanese garden in Muscatine is one of the few remaining from this era in the Midwest.

This project will preserve the garden’s historic features and character while improving its function as a public space. The project will repair the garden’s water system, replace vegetation, and provide better access and interpretation. The treatment plan is based on research using historic photographs and other primary sources.