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Binford House raises funds, eyes comeback after difficult year

One of Marshalltown’s most historic locations is teasing a return this year.

A yard sale to benefit The Binford House brought shoppers out and about on Saturday.

Featuring an entirely donated lineup of items including kitchen supplies, home decor, books, toys and more, the annual sale raises funds to support the upkeep of the almost 150-year-old residence.

Built in 1874, The Binford House, 110 N. Second Ave., is owned and operated by the Marshalltown Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Board member Boo Mandsager said was very pleased with the turnout at Saturday’s yard sale and with the amount of item donations they have received from the community.

“Being on the north side, I think we serve a vulnerable population with household things,” she said. “After the tornado, we could really see that, with people needing pots and pans and dishes and bath towels and bedding.”

Board member Joann Neven said Saturday’s yard sale brought patrons to The Binford House as early as 7 a.m. before the 9 a.m. opening. She said the federation has had very few fundraisers in the past year and a half.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Binford House was available to the public for small to medium-sized meetings, catered meals and private events, including everything from a brunch to a wedding reception.

The board will evaluate when they will be taking reservations from the public again at a meeting this month. Mandsager said the board hopes the house can be open for reservations by September.

Jessie Binford, the daughter of the original builder Thaddeus Binford, gifted the residence to the Marshalltown Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1930 after she inherited The Binford House in 1929.

Jessie Binford is a part of the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame, known for her activism within criminal justice and children’s issues,

In 1930 when the house was donated, there were 33 women’s clubs active in Marshalltown. In 2021, there are now three active women’s clubs.

Board Vice-President Ce Hubbard said one reason for the decrease in the amount of women’s clubs through the years is more women have jobs and are working during the day. Another reason is many clubs, which were exclusively male or female, are now open to both.

Members of the Marshalltown Federation of Women’s Clubs today use raised funds to preserve The Binford House, which has been a part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.

Hubbard said board members are exploring creative ways to get out in front of the public and serve the community. Some ideas mentioned by board members included renting the house out for prom pictures and for the Halloween season complete with spooky decorations.

Money from fundraisers like the yard sale goes to maintaining the house’s infrastructure and Victorian style, while also making updates for safety and accessibility reasons. The banister on the house’s main staircase is in need of repairs, along with many other minor repairs.

Hubbard said the federation has been lucky to have some successful years with fundraising in the past and were able to hold yard sales outdoors last summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic to keep afloat.

“The yard sale is really one of the big donors and contributors to keeping the lights on,” she said.

The biggest source of income the federation receives for The Binford House is from letters sent out to the community at the end of each year asking for donations.

“We’ve had tremendous community response,” Hubbard said. “The yard sale is one thing, but the biggest chunk of income we get is just donations from wonderful people in the community that help us out.”

Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.

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