One of the greatest comedians, entertainers, and television personalities to ever live was born in the southwest Iowa community of Corning in 1925.
Of course, I'm talking about Johnny Carson.
NBC's Tonight Show was built into a ratings powerhouse because of Carson. Successors, such as Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon and (yes, even Conan O'Brien), may be more recognizable to today's generation, but ask your parents and grandparents about Johnny - he was as famous of an American in his era as you'll find.
Before moving to Nebraska at the age of 8, Carson lived in Corning, Avoca, Clarinda, and Red Oak.
Despite his relatively short duration of time in Corning, the community is quite proud of their native son. His birthplace home his now a tourist attraction and the Johnny Carson Birthplace Society is responsible for it's upkeep and tours.
On a recent Saturday, before stopping in Carbon at the Branding Iron and after making stops in Coin for the Buzzard Festival, Villisca and the Ax Murder House, and several communities in Page County, I paid a brief visit to the Johnny Carson Birthplace, which is a pretty modest home a few blocks north of the Corning downtown area.
My visit was before Memorial Day and outside the window of hours that they would be open anyway, so I had to settle for just walking around the outside of the house. I will have to get back sometime when it is open in order to take the whole tour. This note was on the door.
The house is on a corner lot and there's nothing too elaborate about it. Definitely not a mansion.
I appreciate that they play into Ed McMahon's famous intros of Johnny with the sign in front of the house. Well done.
On the Saturday that I was there, it looked like they had recently poured some new concrete in the driveway and on some nearby sidewalks.
In the backyard, there is an old garage or shed.
Here are a few other pictures from around the property. Again, I hope to come back sometime when it is open so I can get inside.
After my brief visit to the home, I went to Corning's beautiful Main Street. Corning is part of the Main Street Iowa program, which is administered by the state's economic development authority.
Adams County is, by population, our state's smallest county. Corning has less than 2000 residents but you wouldn't guess that based on the vibrancy of it's Main Street. There are towns that are double or triple in size that do not have the same healthy looking commerce corridor that Corning has. I saw very few, if any, vacancies.
Not to mention, there is some absolutely astonishing architecture. Not to sound old, but they sure don't build buildings like the used to!
This cafe looked inviting. I'll have to stop by next time.
This red and gray roofed building appears to be home to a car collection or classic car dealership of sorts. I presume it is open for tours?
The Opera House is quite something. I would love to see inside sometime.
I always love a clever name. I got a good chuckle out of this one. What a great name for a florist/gift shop.
Off the Main Street a bit, I spotted the Library and another old but beautiful building.
Between the Main Street area and the Adams County Courthouse, is a gorgeous park. It reminded me of one of the parks I enjoyed while in Savannah, Georgia.
Photographed above is the Courthouse and the Central Park is below.
I need to come back to Corning and Adams County because there is a lot more to see and do. This was a great initial stop and I found this community, and especially its Main Street, to be quite vibrant. What other things should I visit while in town next time?
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Adams County or one of the other 98 counties. If you would wish to host the Iowa Adventurer or have a good idea, please drop me a note through my website.