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Letters to the Editor

Maple Grove Hill mansion will have to be torn down if new country site can’t be found

To the editor:

The house known as Maple Grove Hill, west of Monroe on Highway F-170, needs to be relocated or it will be demolished. Maple Grove Hill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was originally built by Joseph Grayson Long and is known as the oldest wood framed house in Jasper County.

It is built on a stone foundation, the beautiful native Iowa red rock.  While it is technically known as the J.G. and Regina Long House, it is commonly known as Maple Grove Hill, as the Longs planted many maple trees, which were native to their home state of Pennsylvania.

The home also is listed in the 1875 Andreas Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa. Maple Grove Hill is an imposing mid-19th century farmstead in the Italianate style.

J.G. and Jesse were successful farmers and cattlemen.

Many rumors surround Maple Grove Hill. Some have said it is haunted. Another claims that Philip H. Sheridan, Civil War veteran, was related to J.G. and visited him at Maple Grove Hill following the Battle of the Little Big Horn. 

Lore also has the house and barn, with their connecting tunnels, as part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War and indicating that the house was a stop for the Western Stage Company.

Monroe has a great legacy in its name, in its people, in its architecture and historic buildings. It is blessed to have many fine examples of late 1800 and early 1900 architecture, listed on the National Register of Historic Places or not. 

While I had had difficulty in finding an appropriate piece of land to which to move the house, a local couple stepped forward and agreed to help because they also felt this historic Monroe landmark treasure was worth saving.

Unfortunately, the deal fell through at the last minute. Time is running out. I am asking for your help to save the Long House at Maple Grove Hill Farm. I still desire to purchase 2 to 3 acres of land that fits the criteria of the State Historical Society, move the house and restore it.

For the Long house to remain on the National Register of Historic Places, the State Historical Society requires that the Long house remain in the country, in an agricultural setting. Is there any reason why a landowner wouldn’t entertain a reasonable offer for 2 to 3 acres of land meeting the Historical society criteria?

We live in a disposable, throw-away society. What does that say about us? Everywhere you go you hear, “Go green.” The greenest form of construction is restoration. It is said, “They don’t build them like they used to.”

How true.

This house has foot thick beams, intricate moldings and ornamentations. Built from old growth timber, this house has been standing solid for 152 years.

Moving the house is the only way to save it from demolition. To be successful in acquiring land means the preservation of an historical structure. To fail means the Maple Grove Hill house will be dismantled and in the future will only exist in photographs and people’s memories.

If I am unsuccessful in my rescue effort, I will be disappointed, but I will be satisfied knowing that I did all I could, rather than having the regret of knowing I could have done something but instead chose to do nothing. It is my prayer that one of you dear readers will step forward to help preserve a piece of our community’s legacy.

If you desire to help preserve a piece of local history,please contact me at (417) 276-4543.

Sherri Meeker

Stockton, Mo.

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