Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Henry County historical highlights

Aug 01, 2017

Henry County Heritage Trust [HCHT] oversees the former Saunders Elementary School building and the Van Allen family home. Both properties are located two blocks northwest of the Square in Mt. Pleasant; both properties are being renovated by HCHT.

The Van Allen House, boyhood home of Dr. James Van Allen, Mt. Pleasant native and world famous astrophysicist, is open by appointment only. Flooring in the house is new and the walls are freshly painted and wallpapered. However, the house is currently unfurnished. HCHT is in the process of moving the Van Allen furnishings back into the home.

Henry County Heritage Center is housed in the former Saunders Elementary School building and is open Saturday afternoons, May through October, and any other time by appointment. The museum offers historical displays and memorabilia featuring Saunders School, Henry County Rural Schools, the Van Allen family, Mt. Pleasant, Henry County Veterans and all the towns and townships of the County. The Donald Young Memorial Library and Research Center houses Henry County books, maps, photos, postcards and genealogical files for historical research.

Exhibit Examples:

Henry County Courthouse, 1839 replica — First Courthouse in the State of Iowa.

Mt. Pleasant’s Square, circa 1950s scale model — Constructed and donated in 2014.

Brazelton Hotel Registry — 1880s Ledger, listing guests and visitors to the hotel.

Bill Butler Display — In tribute to the MPHS and Iowa Wesleyan graduate, Academy Award winner and accomplished Hollywood Cinematographer.

HCHT is proud and honored to own several Dr. James Van Allen artifacts, currently on loan for the “Hawkeyes in Space” exhibit at the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City. One special item is a “meteor notebook”, written in August 1932 by eighteen year old James Van Allen. He and Raymond Crilley, both Iowa Wesleyan students, made and recorded observations using equipment Professor Poulter had built. The findings were then communicated to astronomy Professor C.C. Wylie, in Iowa City, who published them in a scientific journal article.

By renovating the Van Allen House and Saunders School and sponsoring events celebrating Henry County, HCHT fulfills its mission “to transform community landmarks into civic spaces; to preserve historic artifacts and memories; and to promote and celebrate the history and heritage of Henry County and its people”. For additional information about HCHT, contact Pat White, 319.385.4983 or

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