The Historical Society began meeting monthly in 1988 at the Chamber of Commerce. In 1990, a collection of artifacts was offered the society that immediately needed a home. Fortunately, the Ankeny school district allowed us use of the former industrial arts room behind Neveln School, 400 SW Pleasant St. in which to place the artifacts. A few dedicated members converted the room into our meeting room and museum. Another half dozen members met with the director of the State of Iowa Historical Society to learn how we should establish policies and record gifts. November of 1991, our First Open House was held with a ribbon cutting, 422 donations cataloged and displayed, and over 100 visitors.
We soon outgrew this room and also needed a more visual location. In July of 1995, rumor had it that a 90-year old house on 410 S. Ankeny Blvd. was to be demolished to make room for two commercial businesses. One of our members made a visit to owner Bud Wiuff, an Ankeny developer, who planned to build a Dairy Queen and bagel business at this location. He gave the keys to her so we could visit the home and see if it would meet our needs, but said the house needed to be moved in two weeks. Twenty-two members gathered that afternoon in early July to tour the home and voted unanimously to obtain approval from the Society, the school and city to move this home to its present site. Another visit to Mr. Wiuff was made and he extended the move time to September 1, 1995.
John Marts built the house at 410 S. Ankeny Blvd. in 1905. Mr. E. W. Neveln, Superintendent of Ankeny Schools from 1921-1943, was Mr. Marts’ son-in-law. He and wife Bertha also lived in the house a few years. The Abel T. McCleary family lived in the home 40 years and was the last to live there. They sold the house to Bud Wiuff and he donated it to the Historical Society. After all necessary approvals, our fund-raising committee began efforts to raise $100,000. The house was moved to this location on August 20, 1995 and placed on ground leased to Society by Ankeny Schools.
Over $83,400 in donations and $35,000 in-kind services were received to move and restore house. Firemen from the Ankeny Volunteer Fire Department moved most of the large artifacts and display cases into our new home. Members and volunteers contributed countless hours to prepare house for an Open House one year later, with a ribbon cutting, ice cream social, and tour — August 25, 1996.
Our museums are open for tours by appointment. We also are
open annually for the Uptown Ankeny Christmas Event in December.
Museum tours are given each year for school classes, scout groups,
civic organizations, etc. by society members.