Near Ladora in Iowa County, Iowa — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, a native of Vermont, was the person to whom Horace Greeley gave his famous advice “Go West, young man, go West.” Grinnell took that advice and in 1854 founded the city that now bears his name. A leader in state government, Grinnell in 1857 chaired the legislative committee that planed Iowa’s system of public education from the elementary through university level. A foe of slavery, he gave shelter in 1859 to the fiery abolitionist John Brown after Brown’s anti-slavery raids in Kansas and Missouri. J.B. Grinnell also made his community a stop on the Underground Railroad, with about 1,000 freed slaves passing through the time in the years before the Civil War. After a devastating tornado struck Grinnell, in 1882, and again a fire destroyed much of the business district in 1889, the founder led the rebuilding efforts that resulted in a renewed community.
The city is the home of Grinnell College, a private coeducational liberal arts institution founded as Iowa College in 1846. The college, which moved to Grinnell in 1856, was the first institution west of the Mississippi River to grant a bachelor’s degree;
It made sports history in 1889 when it was the site of the first intercollegiate football game played west of the Mississippi River. The score: Grinnell 24 - University of Iowa 0.
The college’s students have included; Harry Hopkins ’12, chief aide to President Franklin D. Roosevelt; James Norman Hall ’10, co-author of Mutiny on the Bounty; writer Ruth Suckow ’14; actor Gary Cooper ’26; Olympic gold medalist Morgan Taylor ’26; and Robert Noyce ’49, inventor of the process that made the microchip, and therefore the modern electronics revolution. Another resident of the city was Arthur W. Radford, World War II admiral and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1953-57.
Grinnell has many excellent examples of 19th century residential, commercial and institutional architecture, with several structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city’s most notable building is the Brenton National Bank of Poweshiek County, originally the Merchants National Bank of Grinnell. Built in 1914 and designed by Louis Sullivan, the structure is nationally recognized as a prime example of Prairie School architecture.
Erected 1987 by State
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • Education • Settlements & Settlers • Sports. In addition, it is included in the Iowa - State Historical Society of Iowa series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1854.
Location. 41° 41.794′ N, 92° 13.927′ W. Marker is near Ladora, Iowa, in Iowa County. Marker can be reached from Interstate 80 at milepost 208,, 3.6 miles west of County Highway V52, on the right when traveling west. The marker is located at the Rest Area 6 Westbound, 3.1 miles west of Exit 211 on Interstate 80. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Ladora IA 52251, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within walking distance of this marker. Historic Amana Colonies (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line).
Regarding Historic Grinnell. Brenton National Bank of Poweshiek County, referenced on the marker, is now the Merchants Bank owned by Wells Fargo. The bank now operates out of the modern addition to the original building. The Grinnell Chamber of Commerce offices are located in Jewel Box Bank building.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 27, 2023. It was originally submitted on July 28, 2010, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,513 times since then and 66 times this year. Last updated on May 26, 2023, by Jeff Leichsenring of Garland, Texas. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 28, 2010, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.