If I did an analysis of which town in Iowa had the most impressive ratio of people to interesting attractions, the winner very well might be Manning in Carroll County. In several previous posts, I highlighted Manning's beautiful Main Street, raved about their amazing I O W A sculpture, applauded The Market Place, a spectacular retail space, and sung the praises of the very delicious food at Deb's Corner Cafe.
However, that was only just scratching the surface of what you can find in this very "refreshing" town of about 1500 residents.
On the southeast corner of town is a heritage park that is anchored by an impressive and authentic 1660 German hausbarn.
A hausbarn? What's that? Well, the website gives a nice little synopsis.
It, "is a unique structure in that it consists of living quarters not only for the family, with bedrooms, sitting, dining and cooking areas, but also areas for housing livestock, farm equipment and feed. Everything under one roof! Hausbarns were a common form of dwelling throughout several areas of Germany, especially in Schleswig-Holstein in the northwest part of Germany. Many of the residents of Manning are descendants from this particular region."
Unfortunately, my visit to Manning was before May 1 and thus I missed going inside many of the buildings in the park. Thus, I guess I have a pretty good excuse to get back to town in the near future.
It is pretty amazing to have something like this in Manning - it's a structure that was shipped over from Europe in the 1990's and it precedes the American Revolutionary War by more than a century!
What else is in the park? Just to the east of the hausbarn is a farmstead that dates to the early 1900's.
As the website notes, "The farmstead...includes a one and a half story craftsman style bungalow with a three-bay garage, a beautiful braced-rafter gambrel-roofed barn, hog house, chicken house, scale house and boar house. In addition to the farm buildings, the property boasts two rock planters, one birdbath, and a lovely fishpond that were constructed by a local mason around 1916. The house itself has retained excellent integrity throughout the years. The original flooring, woodwork and decorative details are largely intact as are the plumbing and lighting fixtures. All of the furniture is of the time period and the bedroom set in the carriage house is from the original owners."
I will have to bring my mother with me when I return as she is a huge fan of the mission style houses, furniture, and woodwork.
On the south side of the hausbarn is a historic church that was moved to the site in 2006 from a location about 10 miles away. The church is set on the top of hill and the contrast with the blue sky was quite striking.
"The Trinity congregation organized in 1884 when a predominant movement of northern German immigrants came to Iowa, settling in the area surrounding Manning. Lutherans in Lincoln Township began conducting services in a school house. They constructed and dedicated their first church in 1884. The church was quickly outgrown and rebuilt in 1901. This building served the congregation, its’ members at one time numbering 250, until the church and its contents were destroyed by a tornado in March 1913. The congregation immediately began reconstruction of their church. The church was built in six months and dedicated in October 1913. In 2004, the congregation decided it would close the church after marking its 125th anniversary in 2006. Rather than see the rural church sold or dismantled, an agreement was reached with the Manning Community Foundation to move the church...where it would complement the other cultural landmarks and allow for visitors to tour the church."
If you are interested in how they moved the church, there is a video on their website. Quite fascinating.
I am delighted to see they were able to successfully preserve this beautiful structure so that generations of visitors will be able to appreciate it.
Closer to the highway, I found the county's Freedom Rock which is painted by State Representative Ray "Bubba" Sorensen. Ray has been painting the original rock every year on in Adair County and then he has since embarked on a project to get a rock painted in every county.
I found a nice plaque with a tribute to veterans next to the rock.
There's a small structure next to the rock which has a great deal of information about all of various Manning and Carroll County area attractions.
On the same parcel of land as the rock, there's a sizable area that is used as a campground. It appears that there are 14 different spots in case you are looking for somewhere interesting to camp this summer.
Next to the hausbarn and across the street from the campground is the town's conference center. Except, because it's Manning, they spell it Konferenz Centre with a little German flair.
Based on what it says on this sign, there is no shortage of uses for the space.
Next door, you can find a hotel. That is obviously a very convenient location.
It had been years since I stopped in Manning as it's not on a usual route that I take as I head west. Clearly, I've been missing out.
You could spend a full weekend in the area and probably not hit it all - which is quite impressive given the relative size of the community.
They are part of Iowa's Main Street Program and there is real momentum everywhere you look. It's a real example of a town who is working together to not only survive - but thrive.
If you are looking for a day trip somewhere different this summer, Manning may be a great choice. I don't think you'll have any trouble finding something unique to see or do.