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Visiting History in Siouxland, Adams House Museum, Ponca, NE

5 Dec
A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through one of the photography classes I teach at a local community college I look for destinations for the class to visit near and far within Siouxland. Besides possibly introducing the students to places locally they might not have visited before, it also puts their photographic skills to test from composition to using ISO and white balance settings to possibly trying slow shutter speeds or dragging the shutter. My reasoning is that if they are on vacation someplace, they shouldn’t be afraid of pulling out the camera and using it to document their trip or to make awe inspiring imagery to share later with family and friends.

Volunteer Ken Johnson talks about the history of the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum is a brick home built in the early 1880’s by a local druggist named E.D. Ayers according to a printed handout presented by the museum. Volunteer Ken Johnson gave the class a quick history lesson about the house and some of the furnishings, not all of which are original but mostly period pieces to the early family that lived there.

In the early 1900’s a local farmer and his wife, Sam and Della Adams, purchased the home, and it was noted in the information handed out that only wealthier folk in those days could afford to build or purchase a brick home.

A stairwell leads to the upstairs while a doorway at left goes into a sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of a formal sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remnants of history on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always interesting to walk through a home museum. To see what appliances and other types of utensils were used during a particular time period one to two centuries ago. Various photographs about the museum showed snippets of history about the area and what it looked like before really being settled. Photographs showing the early days of a community are so totally different than what one sees today. Which is only natural, considering there are so many more folk living these days, and living longer.

A number of items within the museum were donated by area families, passed down through the generations are now on display for others to consider its place in history and a bit of reminder that actual people inhabited this house and others in the area helping create what it has become.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small hallway seen at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photo of the Ponca Chiefs delegation on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum, a historical place documenting life in an earlier century seen in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Uehling, NE

22 Sep
Crossroads in downtown Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy driving around Siouxland, not always knowing what I might find. And like many other states, there are numerous small towns one might run across that somewhat appear out of nowhere, but have been in existence for decades if not a century for some of them.

A country road heads off into the distance leaving Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mount dedicated to the anniversary of the community’s founding on a downtown store in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some communities are a mere crossroad for the surrounding area. In former glory days these small communities sprung up as railroad tracks and lines were laid through the area. In earlier centuries the small town was necessary because of the distance to travel and time spent by early modes of transportation, which now with automobiles is not the issue it might have once been with horses and buggies and wagons.

Each place has a story to tell, although sometimes finding that story can be challenging. These days there is a plethora of content online, though it may not be the content one is searching for to find answers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor might assume the community was named after Theodore Uehling see in in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mural heading into empty space seen in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Shapes and Angles in Siouxland, Winslow, NE

5 Aug
A building displays shapes and angles in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When exploring parts of Siouxland I enjoy seeing various types of architecture, current and older. Some buildings are in better shape than others, but all display an architect’s original thoughts in the design. Whether more functional than beauty intended, each building has some design element for a viewer to enjoy. If only through a fleeting moment as one passes by, and if one takes the time to notice.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A building displays shapes and angles in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A building displays shapes and angles in Winslow, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grand Architecture in Siouxland, Louis E May Museum, Fremont, NE

26 Jul
A grand estate, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I continue driving about Siouxland I surprise myself at finding unexpected pleasures like the Louis E. May Historical Museum in Fremont, NE.

Sadly, the museum is currently closed because of the pandemic, but am hoping it might be reopening this coming fall for a chance to see the interior of the former home.

The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was difficult to find much information about the history of the museum and former home online. With just a brief mention about it on two official sites:

The home was built in the Italianate Revival style by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye, in 1874. Nye’s son inherited the home in 1900 and remodeled the home from 1901 through 1912. The current style of the home is Georgian or Classical Revival and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is art of the Dodge County’s Historical Society. The home’s grounds are a Nebraska Arboretum Site, a grassroots membership-based nonprofit that believes environments matter and provide a better sense of place and social interactions as well as improving one’s health.

Another blogger wrote about the historical house in 2013 after a visit. I look forward to actually touring it when it reopens.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021 was originally built in 1874 by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, has a perennial Victorian garden and a rose garden on the grounds. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Built in 1874 by Fremont, NE’s first mayor, Theron Nye, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is now listed with the National Register of Historic Places seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lines and Shapes in Siouxland, Midland College, Wayne, NE

30 Jun
A building on the campus of Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy visiting institutions of higher education. The idea of walking the same ground that so many have walked before pursuing dreams and hopefully a better way of life for themselves and their fellow citizens. The architecture is interesting and sometimes is a combination of a variety of styles depending on when the school was founded and when other buildings were later added to the campus to help with a growing student population.

Early sculpture piece depicting a nostalgic campus scene at Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Avant guard signage at Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am by no means astute about architecture and the history of styles and such, but more appreciative in the lines, shapes, angles and other visual aspects which I enjoy. And photographing in B&W the shades of grey that occur within the frame of an image.

The school seemed closed between its spring and summer sessions, and I am not certain what protocols are in place at various institutions as each seems to dictate what is acceptable as pandemic restrictions are eased or altogether done away with. But one can always enjoy the grounds which are well tended and presentable in case a prospect might be passing through to take a peek and see what lies within.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A more classical building design at Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Shapes and lines on the campus Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An architectural feature of a building on the campus of Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking up in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

11 May
Looking up in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I remember so many years ago before living in Siouxland and visiting relatives in a larger city than where I lived people reminded me not to look up. They said doing so would make me stand out as a tourist. While I understood what they were getting at, the advice belied the fact that I was indeed, a tourist. And looking up just naturally comes with that territory.

Walking around downtown Omaha, NE one can play tourist. The small city has a interesting mix of buildings and styles. While not a student of architecture or the history of that medium, I know there is a mixture of various architectural styles found there and the tall buildings naturally invites one to look at and admire their grandeur..

Looking at taller buildings in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing shapes in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it’s not just the buildings seen outside, but sometimes it’s also what is seen inside. While I didn’t photograph the front of the Douglas County Courthouse in Omaha, I did pause to photograph the ceiling inside. Older courthouses have a style and decor that is wonderful. And as many were built early on, sometimes in another century, what is seen helps tell the history of a place, although that history was generally told through the eyes of those wielding power at the time, mainly the movers and shakers of the day. Monied people who settled the area and controlled that through their wealth and influence.

Inside the Douglas County District Courthouse in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Inside the Douglas County District Courthouse in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the architecture is to be admired, if not the message through the murals that adorn the spaces. The style is grand, elegant and formal. Many times constructed with marble that today would be beyond the reach of many communities and sensibilities and styles change. No longer harkening back to those European roots per se, but looking to create a statement of the those who craft the structures today making their own mark and not wanting to continue a traditionalist look created many centuries ago.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A portrait of a forebear hanging inside the Douglas County District Courthouse in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding History Nestled in Siouxland, Trinity Cathedral, Omaha, NE

25 Apr
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral is surrounded by newer and more 20th century architecture near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Those communities and larger cities settled more than a century or two ago have what one might consider an odd conglomeration of architecture dotting its downtown streets and city core. Most U.S. cities downtown areas are dotted with European style architecture which makes sense since it was settlers of those countries for the most part that began a push westward in their newly adopted home. These buildings reminded them of their former home and parts there about.

But as cities grew and entered into the next century and generations of people tastes and styles of architecture also changed and became more modern looking. The Trinity Episcopal Cathedral of the Nebraska Diocese is the oldest church building still in use in the state.

According to its website: ” The community of Trinity has been worshiping in Downtown Omaha since the city’s earliest days. Founded in 1856 by Nebraska’s first settlers, Trinity came through a financial crash, a building fire, and the struggles of the frontier before moving into a beautiful building on the corner of 18th and Capitol in 1883. We’ve been there ever since, making Trinity Cathedral the oldest church building in Nebraska still in use.

That long legacy has given us a love of beauty and history, which shows up in our architecture, our music, and our worship. It’s also made us committed to serving the physical, spiritual, and social needs of our neighbors as an inclusive, loving community where everyone can find a home.”

The Fisst Bishop of Nebraska is buried at the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral is the oldest still in use church building located near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cities’ downtown areas grew up around the core that began in some case two centuries ago and some of which still thrive as well in cities in the eastern U.S. which are even older than Omaha. In some ways these buildings tell folk a little history visually about a community. Pueblos and missions certainly do that in the western areas of the U.S. The architecture grounds a community in some respect linking to a past that almost certainly is overlooked these days until one stops and actually thinks about it.

A newer skyscraper peeks above the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral located near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am certain the inside of this church like many religious buildings is beautiful on the inside. Many times when I happen upon places they are not always open, certainly not these days during the coronavirus pandemic. But that might be something for another trip to enjoy the solitude and history one might feel inside the church. Certainly many footfalls have echoes within, both in joyous and sadder times. A rock in a community to anchor those who wish it. Whose doors are always, generally, open and welcoming to those who wish to visit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring Brings a new Journey in Siouxland, and Elsewhere

9 Apr
A doorway in Sioux City, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Beginning a new journey sometimes means simply opening a doorway and stepping through. The journey can take place anywhere for anyone, even in Siouxland. There are many places to visit in the area, and even revisit. Changes occur, and this last year seems a lost year in some ways, the hope of getting out to explore again is palpable. But walking through that doorway also engenders inherent risks. It’s always the unknown that is hard to accept.

Going forward as hope appears on the horizon due to the vaccine availability, one wonders if all will take advantage.

It will be nice to once again explore Siouxland and visit museums and other places that have been closed. But there trepidation in meeting people who don’t believe in science as well as their indifference to others. Some say ignorance is bliss, but one could disagree in this case.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Walking Through History in Siouxland, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, SD

8 Feb
A former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting and revisiting places of history is always time well spent in my book. Former places that have become museums and other places of historical record are abundant in Siouxland and enjoyable as well as educational.

A witness box in the former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD is one such place. And like most museums the exhibits change over time with various bits of history added to its repertoire for local residents and guests to explore. And it takes a little time to explore and read and absorb the information being shared. And on a cold winter’s day, spending a little time indoors is not a bad thing.

A small courtyard with seating is a pleasant outdoor area during nicer weather seen from inside the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Built in the late 1890’s it was said to be the largest courthouse between Chicago and Denver. Of course architects and builders always want to promote their work. The building seems to have stood time well with many features still found from when footsteps first tread its floors.

A grand stairwell leads to the second floor where a courtroom awaited interested parties in the former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I often wonder about those earlier occupants who lived and worked in an area. What their lives may have been like and what their day to day circumstances included, good and bad. Joys and heartbreak is not a new concept to any particular generation, no matter when they lived.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cityscapes in Siouxland, Council Bluffs

29 Jan
A church’s spire is seen in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, with the city of Omaha, NE also seen in the near distant background. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When driving about parts of Siouxland I always enjoy the architecture I encounter. There are some really nice gems in the region. Sometimes depending on weather, time of year and which way the wind blows (a joke, poor I realize) it’s tough to make a photograph. Again, as a failsafe I chose working in black and white. A grey day, hazy, with a white sky, not blue, color would not have helped this image. So I punted and used black and white, shapes and angles and a horizon line to create an image.

Shooting from a nearby hilltop, and because of power lines and trees, my choice of placement for me and the camera lens may not have been ideal. But using tonality and the shapes the image turned out better than I could have hoped.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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