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Tallcorn Towers may house Grant Wood murals

Historical preservationists to check for evidence

September 21, 2012
By MIKE DONAHEY - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

If the walls could talk.

They would say there are, or are not, murals painted by famed Iowa artist Grant Wood under panels in the Georgian Ballroom of Marshalltown's Tallcorn Towers Apartment building.

Regardless, officials with Koester Construction Co. of Grimes need to know.

Article Photos

Shown is one of several panels in the Georgian Ballroom of Marshalltown’s Tallcorn Towers Apartments. Koester Construction Co. of Grimes is working with Renaissance Restoration of Galena, IL. to determine if murals painted by the renown Iowa artist Grant Wood are underneath.

They will be the general contractor for an extensive renovation scheduled to begin in January.

Current owners B.O. and Barbara Bryngelson sold the building to Common Bond of Minneapolis.

That company will take possession in December and construction will start in January, according to Bo Weber of Koester.

Weber said the company must follow historical preservation guidelines when renovating the building.

Consequently, Koester has hired Renaissance Restoration Inc. of Galena, IL. to determine if Wood murals exist under the solidly constructed plaster panels.

Zak Dunne of Renaissance said he may be stopping at the Tallcorn Friday to check on the possibility. Otherwise, Dunne said he would be examining photographs, and by use of a special process, determine if murals are located underneath.

"I'm not sure how long it might take to determine if there are murals there or not," he said.

Sparking Koester's interest was a Feb. 18, 2011, Times-Republican story which reported Wood had been commissioned to decorate the Tallcorn's ballroom and restaurant, known as the Iowa Corn Room.

That information was obtained from a June 6, 1949 special T-R edition.

Local historians Dorothy Apgar and Barb Scafferi said they were not aware Wood had ever worked at the Tallcorn. Historian Jay Carollo and the Historical Society of Marshall County were asked to investigate as well. Neither could confirm Wood worked at the Tallcorn after extensive research.

Wood did paint murals at other hotels - including one in Sioux City - owned by Eppley Hotels Co. of Omaha, the same company that built the Tallcorn and formally opened Oct. 4, 1928.

B.O. thinks if there are Wood murals, they might be located in a hallway near the ballroom.

"There was wallpaper here (on a wall) in 1970 when we bought the building," he said. "The wallpaper began peeling away, so it was painted over. The murals might, or might not be underneath."



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