Attractions October 14, 2021
There’s A Palace-Like Home From 1848 Hiding In Small Town Iowa That You Can Still Visit
Take a step back in time when you walk inside the Scholte House along the square in Pella. Built in 1848, this fully furnished house is a treasure trove of history. Considered a palace in the pioneer times during which it was built, this beautiful home is a treat to visit today.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
When “Dominee Scholte,” a minister from the Netherlands, emigrated to Iowa with his wife, Maria, he bought 18,000 acres in the Pella area for $1.25 per acre. He established the town of Pella with the approximately 800-person group that accompanied the family from the Netherlands.
Maria, accustomed to their lovely home in the Netherlands, struggled to adjust to the little log cabin the family first moved into upon their arrival in what was to become Pella. Soon, however, her husband built her a lovely house that included many reminders of her old home, like an arched ceiling in the drawing room modeled after her favorite room she’d left behind.
The house is set in what used to be a black walnut grove, and it was built from those trees that were cut to create a building site. Besides the walnut structure and walls, you’ll see beautiful walnut furniture also made from the local wood.
The Dominee, as he’s often referred to, was fluent in seven languages and was a political activist, promising young men a free homestead in Pella if they fought in the Civil War. Dominee Scholte was friends with Abraham Lincoln and attended his inauguration in 1861.
Maria presided over a beautiful home. Her daughter-in-law, Lenora Scholte, was an accomplished artist in a variety of mediums, and many examples of her art grace the home today. Music was important to the Scholte family. There are several pianos throughout the house, and you can even see a small, portable organ that the Dominee brought with him as he traveled.
There’s also a cane that doubles as a flute in the Dominee’s office, and another (non-musical) cane that was a gift from President Lincoln. You can see a box that was used as a safe before Pella’s first bank with a legitimate vault was built. There are old coins on display, as well as countless books and decorations.
The Scholte house is open for paid tours Wednesday through Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the knowledgeable tour guides share a wealth of information about the house and the early days of the community. A portion of the house also serves as a tearoom that is reservable through the Pella Historical Society.
While the building is closed through the months of December and January for deep cleaning and any necessary renovations, the house offers a lovely historical experience for the rest of the year.
The adjoining gardens are always free to tour anytime, and they offer incredible tulip displays in the spring as well as vibrant beds of annuals through the summer and fall. The brass statues within the gardens are favorites of visitors, portraying the early Dutch settlers in their traditional garb.
While the house is open for tours during Pella's famous Tulip Time Festival each spring, going at other times of the year will allow you more time to linger and enjoy the veritable museum that this house truly is.
To learn more, visit the Scholte House website
here. And if you love unique house museums, here’s another hidden gem in Decorah that you won’t want to miss! Address: Scholte House Museum & Gardens, 728 Washington St, Pella, IA 50219, USA