Monday, November 10, 2014

The press is about ready to roll ...

Several of us put in a good deal of time over the weekend reading the final proof of this --- a book entitled "The Charitone: Reviving the Cornerstone of Chariton's Square" that will be published later this month by the Lucas County Preservation Alliance, just in time for Christmas.

I've been buried up to my nose in this project for weeks during the late summer and fall --- and it's easy to lose your perspective from that vantage point. So I was pleased to to discover just how well it reads and how interesting the completed narrative is.

A majority of the text, about 75 pages, traces the history not only of the now-renewed hotel and the people  associated it, but also of the corner lot on which it stands and its predecessors there. One of Chariton's earliest post offices operated out of a log cabin on the site during the 1850s; the Opposition House hotel was built there in 1867; for a brief time at the turn of the 20th Century it was the site of Chariton's first "big-box" department store; and finally --- just before the hotel was built --- the biggest and longest series of revival meetings ever in the south of Iowa were held in a temporary "tabernacle" on the site.

I've written the historical text and narrative following the renewal process from gutted shell to official opening of the Charitone Market Grille earlier this year. Ray Meyer has added a detailed introduction that answers any questions anyone may have about the process and actually reads like a preservation-related adventure story --- from near-despair to triumph. Many of the photographs are mine, too --- but the hugely talented Jerri Reeve and her camera helped out considerably here, too --- especially with cover images and design.

Extensive appendices follow the narrative and here you'll find a complete accounting of financial contributions to the project. The sheer determination of several people to save the old hotel started this project, but it would not have been possible without extraordinarily generous financial support from Hy-Vee ($1.6 million), the Vredenburg Foundation ($500,000) and many others.

You'll also find here all of the "Cornerstone" newsletters prepared and published by Ray as the project proceeded.

No, we don't know quite yet how much the book will sell for --- but will let you know soon. All proceeds from the book, once printing costs have been covered, will go to the Lucas County Preservation Alliance. Since this has been a labor of love for everyone involved, none of the rest of us will see a dime of the proceeds. Stay tuned for more information.


Tomorrow is Veterans Day, so be sure to stop at Midwest Heritage Bank later today and Tuesday to see the special display there featuring military-related artifacts from the Lucas County Historical Society collection.

Mike Armstrong and I are meeting at the museum early today to gather and transport elements of the display. I told him last week to remind me, just in case I forgot --- but I've remembered. But now I've got to start moving.


It looks like we'll dodge the worst of the "polar vortex" moving into the upper Midwest this morning, but this is going to be the last day for a while when we see highs in the 60s. Low 30s will be more like it. So there's lots to do on that end of things, too.

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