history, Our Story, small town life

Postcard from the Past: 100 Years of Monona, Iowa


Monona, Iowa - 1914 and 2014

The Mister picked up this postcard depicting our little town on Ebay a few weeks ago. It wasn’t until it had arrived and we were taking a closer look at the postcard that we took note of the postdate. June 30, 1914. In case you’re not keeping track of your calendar, that’s 100 years ago. Exactly one hundred years ago today even! What a perfect time to take a look at the city now vs. then.

A 1914 postcard sent from Monona, Iowa to Lansing, Iowa

The postcard was addressed to Mr. John Wendler Jr in Lansing, Iowa. No address, no zip code – just John Wendler, Lansing, Iowa. The sender wrote (misspellings left in):

Dear Brother, I wanto drop you a few lines to let you we got to Monona allright. We got here at eleven but you ought to see the corn from Waterville to Volney. It is all cut to pieces Some of the fields were all flat. WW

Monona, Iowa as seen in 1914

In 1914 the town of Monona had two banks, a general store, an opera house, two lawyers and various other small businesses. Most of the businesses were located on Center Street, which was still unpaved in 1914 despite being the town’s lone commercial street. Delbert Meier, the man who would build our American System Built home, already had his law practice in town in 1914.  He and his family were living in a house on Main Street, three years away from starting construction on what would become our house.

Monona Iowa in 2014

Driving into town today, you would find one bank, a grocery store/gas station, a pharmacy, a fabric store, a newspaper, a flooring store, numerous hair salons, one lawyer, a couple of insurance agents and, located in what was once the opera house, a secondhand shop. Many of the businesses are still located on Center Street (now paved and with decorative “bump outs” at the corners). The gas stations and grocery store are now located closer to the “new” US Route that bypasses downtown.

Unlike a lot of small towns, Monona has actually continued to see population growth. In fact, based on what the town had to offer in 1910 vs what’s around these days, the little burg is doing quite well for itself. There are more businesses here now than there were in 1910 – but still fewer than there had been in the middle of the 20th century.

According to Wikipedia, the town has seen an almost steady growth in population since 1880, when there were just 420 people in town. Population as of 1910 had grown to 792. As of the 2010 census, the population is now 1,549. Make that 1,551 now that we’re here!

Images: This American House

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1 Comment

  • Reply Jym Montgomery 07/08/2014 at 7:56 am

    Yes, the great “Garden City” is alive filled with friendly people, spectacular vegetable and flower gardens.
    The best known secret near the Grand Ole Mississippi river with camping, canoeing, fishing, gaming, the list is endless with plush green farms producing commodities in abundance that feed the nation.

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