Tag Archives: Pella

photo of Tour of the Miniature Dutch Village with Doug Heerema

Back in Time – Visiting the Pella Historical Village

Teardrop log: June 19, 2017

Located just across the street from the Royal Amsterdam Hotelon the Molengracht Plaza where we have been staying, is the Pella Historical Village. It offers a look at how early Pella pioneers lived after they left Holland in the 1840’s.

On the grounds, we found the Sod House, a replica of the housing during Pella’s early years. We learned how wooden shoes were made at the Werkplaats. Among the buildings, is the boyhood home of Wyatt Earp, one of the most famous or infamous characters of the Old West, still standing in the historical village.

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Doug Heerema, our tour guide took us through the enchanting Miniature Dutch Village. It was begun by George Heernan in 1938, as a work study project for students in Pella’s schools and Central College, as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Many of the original structures were created at 1/24 scale and restored in 1978. New buildings have been added. The village is populated with dolls that reflect authentic daily life in a Dutch village. All four seasons are portrayed with a boy flying a kite, flower sellers, farmers gathering hay and ice skaters on frozen canals.

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Having been in the museum business, I always check out the gift shop when we visit a museum. This one was amazing! One source observed that it had every type of Dutch gift you could want from dishes to wooden shoes. I bought a bag of flour produced at the mill and a Pella cookbook to go with it.

We enjoyed exploring historic Pella. There was not enough time so see everything on the list. We will definitely put this magic place in the list for future trips on the Teardrop Trail!

photo of the Pella Cookbook and Windmill Flour

Pella Cookbook and Windmill Flour

photo of The Vermeer Mill and Historical Village

The Vermeer Mill — A Dutch Windmill Tour

Teardrop Trail Log: June 19, 2017

The star of Pella is the Vermeer Mill — it’s certainly the first thing you notice when you drive into town. Having arrived Saturday evening we were intrigued but could only admire it from the outside. It wasn’t open for tours until Monday morning.

photo In the Historical Village

In the Historic Village

One enters the windmill through the Pella Historical Village gift shop. The tours start at regular intervals for whoever is there. We were shown a short film and presentation by Doug Heerema, one of the mill guides. He then showed us another floor of the museum where an astonishing miniature village is located — but more on this in a later post. Riding an elevator to the fifth floor, we were introduced to Jim Brandl, the “molenaar” or miller for a tour of the Vermeer Mill.

The mill is connected to the museum by a wooden bridge, and on it, you find a panoramic view of Pella. Ahead is an enormous ship’s wheel — used to turn the mill structure to direct it into the wind. It was a clear, fine day with a light breeze, and the miller made a few adjustments. The massive cloth-covered sails began turning as we walked around the platform. Moveable barriers prevent absent-minded tourists from walking into the sails which swing by with impressive speed.

Inside, we found a profusion of massive wooden beams supporting the roof of the mill, which rises two more floors above. Equally massive wooden gears turn a large, wooden shaft which turns the mill stones at about eye level. Grain from a hopper is shaken into the center of the top stone and flour falls from a chute to a waiting bag below. A beautiful modern example of an 1850’s “koren molen” (grain mill) that still works today.

Built by the Verbij Hoogmade BV company in the Netherlands and re-assembled in Pella in 2002, the Vermeer Mill stands on a 40-foot-high brick base to reach a height of 124 feet at the tip of the tallest sail. Made of 16 different wood species from 6 countries, the mill supports two, five-foot in diameter, 3500-pound mill stones. 500 pounds of flour can be ground in one hour with a brisk wind. With woods like Purpleheart, Ironwood, Acidwood, Oak, Scots Elm, Teak, Lignumvitae and the exquisite joinery needed to build with them, this is a feast for anyone interested in fine woodworking.

The third floor is a small museum showing Dutch mill technology. Scale models show the mill’s inner workings, while a series of framed prints show the many variations of mill developed for specialized uses.

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The second floor is a recreation of the molenaar’s living arrangements. Compact but comfortable, it is the ultimate in thrift and short commute. This way, he was always nearby in case of bad weather to turn the mill cap into the wind. The “bed stede” or bed is interesting. The doors could be closed for warmth, but it was shorter than we’re used to, as people in the 1850’s believed it was unhealthy to sleep lying flat.

photo of The Molenaar's Home

The Molenaar’s Home

photo of Public Square Park

Exploring Pella

Teardrop Trail Log: June 18, 2017

On Monday, after breakfast at the hotel, we strolled down Franklin Street and explored the Dutch heritage of the village. We started by walking around the Public Square Park, looking at all the shops, businesses, gardens and parks. There were many famed, significant buildings including the Scholte house, built by Pella’s founder in 1847, now a museum.

After exploring we were ready for lunch. The Windmill Café (709 Franklin) a bustling but friendly place just off Public Square Park.

photo of the interior of the Smokey Row Coffee Shop

Smokey Row Coffee Shop

Jim goes in search of his customary mocha every afternoon and today was no exception. As we proceeded up Franklin street, we found the Smokey Row Coffee Shop. A Mocha success! We passed the Klokkenspel.

photo of The Klokkenspel

The Klokkenspel

This carillon was created for Pella with 147 bell chimes and eight animated, mechanical characters from Pella’s history that perform daily. It is one of a handful animated musical clocks in the United States, and can be viewed from both Franklin Street and on the courtyard side.

That evening we dined at George’s Pizza and Steak House, located in an historic building just across from the Klokkenspel. A tasty way to end the day’s Pella adventure!

photo of the Klokkenspel Courtyard

Klokkenspel Courtyard

photo of the Royal Amsterdam Hotel in Pella

Arriving in Pella

Teardrop Trail Log: June 17, 2017

We like to see the sights around the state where the Red Power Roundup takes place. In April as we were planning our trip to Iowa, I put out a request to members of a number of tear drop trailer pages on Facebook asking for suggestions of what we should see while visiting Iowa. I was amazed at the number of responses from the members of the Heartland Tearjerkers.

Love the trailer community. We were even invited to join a small trailer gathering at Rock Creek State Park, east of Des Moines. Suggestions ranged from the Bridges of Madison County to Pella, Iowa.

photo of the Vermeer Windmill and Historic Village

Vermeer Windmill and Historic Village

Most people know the town for the windows that are manufactured nearby and the annual tulip festival. Pella was founded by the Dutch who settled in the rich farmland of Iowa in 1874 and founded the quaint village. Persecuted for being dissenters from the state Reformed church, they named their new home Pella, taken from a biblical city of refuge.The village offers old world charm, awesome scenery, great shopping and excellent Dutch bakeries!

We arrived on Sunday June 17, and checked into the Royal Amsterdam Hotel located on The Molengracht, which means “mill canal,” built to replicate a Dutch-style canal in the historic downtown area. That evening, we had a wonderful dinner at Monarchs Restaurant in the hotel. I had a fabulous butternut squash ravioli and Jim had lasagna. We shared a delicious chocolate cake.

photo of chocolate cake

It was as good as it looke!