WATERLOO – Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area is moving to a new visitor-friendly location.
“It is a dream of our board and staff to be in a street space that is accessible to the public,” said Cara Miller, Silos & Smokestacks president. “We are currently lacking a space where we can greet the public and introduce them to the heritage area as a destination.”
The new location, Master Service Station, also known as Bennett’s Tire & Battery Co., is located at 305 W. Park Ave. in downtown Waterloo and is also home to Experience Waterloo. The building, built in 1930, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to Miller, the new space would serve as a “doorway to the heritage area.”
The current location, the second floor of the Fowler Building in downtown Waterloo, serves only as offices for SSNHA staff to oversee work in the heritage area and assist partner sites. The Master Service Station location would house staff offices, meeting space, as well as exhibits for the public that introduce the heritage area and tell the story of agriculture in Iowa.
“Ultimately this will be a place for travelers and the Cedar Valley community to explore agriculture and learn about its past, present and future,” said Miller.
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Phase I of the “Open the Doorway” project is to renovate the former service station by building office and meeting space, finishing the interior of the building and adding signage to the exterior. Phase II will see the installation of public exhibits and interpretation.
A capital campaign is underway to raise a total of $447,000. According to Miller, only $80,000 remains to be raised for the entire project. “There are pieces of the project that can be delayed until we have total funding, but we have raised enough to get started on the majority of the work to get us moved in by this fall.”
This SSNHA project has been funded in part by the Black Hawk Gaming Association, the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and several other private contributions. For more information, or to donate, go to www.silosandsmokestacks.org/openthedoor.
Spanning a 37 county region in Northeast Iowa, Silos & Smokestacks is the only federally designated National Heritage Area in the country to preserve and tell the story of American agriculture.
National Heritage Areas are places designated by Congress where natural, cultural and historic resources combine to tell a story that celebrates our nation’s diverse heritage. Through partnerships with farms, museums, and historic sites, Silos & Smokestacks educates and inspires generations to discover agriculture in everyday life.