Please click on the building image above for details about the Adel Historical Museum's proposed Nile Kinnick, Jr. Addition.
Adel Historical Museum - The Story of a Community
1129 Main Street
May 15th to Sept 15th , noon to 4:00 p.m. Saturdays
Open by appointment other days
(please call (515) 993-1032, or Adel City Hall (515) 993-4525 to make an appointment)
Once upon a time in a tiny Iowa town, a building was born….
School Days 1857-1870
The two-story brick building at 1129 Main Street was for thirteen years the schoolhouse for the Adel community, having replaced a small one-story frame structure.
The Leroy Lambert Home 1872-1898
An early pioneer of Dallas County, Leroy Lambert was one of Adel’s leading citizens, a state legislator and for seventeen years a banker in the community. During his family’s residence at 1129 Main, the home was considered one of the finest in Adel.
The Thornton Residence 1898-1943
Lea Thornton ran a general store on the east side of the town square which featured “everything from open cracker barrel to yard goods to plug tobacco.” In later years of residence at the home, the Thornton family rented out rooms, which explains why some remember the property as Thornton’s Boarding House.
The Bowles Homes 1949-1973
After six years of ownership by E. A. Hiatt, Nonie Bowles bought the house for his family residence. An enclosed front porch was added (but later removed) and a portion of the home was used as apartments.
The Historical Society 1973-1998
Eager for a place to house and preserve Adel’s historic treasures, the Society launched a fund drive to purchase the Bowles property for use as a museum. They acquired, through donations or purchase, a collection which includes such items as the massive gear wheel from the early mill and the office furnishings of Iowa Governor George Clark. In 1998, the Society donated the property to the City of Adel.
When you walk in the front door, you can tell immediately that in its day, this was a grand home for the small pioneer town of Adel.
The first room is the Parlor with a year-round Christmas tree holding many antique ornaments. In the Kitchen area is the impressive desk of Iowa’s governor (1913-1917) and Adel native, George Washington Clarke, along with the display of his grandson, Adel’s favorite son and 1938 Heismann Trophy Winner, Nile Kinnick, Jr. Once through the kitchen area, you’ll find the Music Room which is filled with pictures and instruments of the Caldwell Family Band as well as many interesting photos recalling Adel’s past. The first floor includes the 1800’s Bedroom, which displays some of the oldest artifacts in the Museum. Here you will see a fainting couch, a 100-year old rope bed using 190 feet of rope, an 1887 wedding dress, and an1898 ladies walking suit and bonnet.
At the top of the stairs is the Uniform Room - a tribute to Adel’s sons who served in the military. Just past there is the Children’s Room filled with period toys, clothes and country school books and memorabilia. The third room now houses the Orton Family Circus Display, a wooden sign from the third Dallas County Courthouse (built in 1894), and items which reflect Adel’s business heritage. The next room is the 1900’s Room containing 4 wedding dresses worn from 1927 to 1953. There are also many quilts and a treadle sewing machine.
Adel is very proud of its current Museum. It has been beautifully laid out and designed with a great deal of care and love. We are hopefully looking forward to an expansion in the near future, which will provide room for a larger Nile Kinnick collection as well as more treasures from the Orton Family Circus.