The Ankeny Area Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity. Contrary to popular belief, neither the society nor the museum receive direct public funding from any government or municipal entity - we help to keep your history alive through yearly membership renewals, periodic fundraising events, and donations from the community.
Come tour our museum house, which was built in 1905. You can visit Floppy, Iowa's most famous beagle, who was the star of his own program on local channel 13 from 1957-1987, and is currently on display in our barn. We also have military memorabilia, an antique toy room, and a library full of information about the Ankeny area and the families who have lived here.
Our museum has non-traditional operating hours. We have an Open House every Sunday from June to Labor Day weekend, and the 1st Sunday of every month in April, May, October, and November from 2-4pm. If you're planning on coming to visit the area with a tour group, or coming from out of town, please call us and we can try to make other arrangements for you to visit during a different time.
Although the museum is not open during the week, the historical society does have regular office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:00am and 2:00pm, meaning there should be a person in the office to answer phone calls and emails during this time. If this changes for a particular day, we will create a Facebook post to notify our followers. If you're trying to reach us outside of our office hours, please leave a message or send us an email, and allow us at least 2 business days to respond. If you leave a message or send email on Thursday evening, you should not expect to receive a response until Monday at the earliest.
The Ankeny Area Historical Society began meeting monthly in 1988 at the Chamber of Commerce. In 1990, a collection of artifacts was offered to the society that needed an immediate home. Fortunately, the Ankeny school district allowed us to use the former industrial arts room behind Neveln School, at 400 SW Pleasant St., to house our initial collection. 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.
In 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 we also needed a more visual location. In July of 1995, rumors were growing that a 90-year old house on 410 S. Ankeny Blvd. was going 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 the 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.
The Museum House
John Marts built a 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 then lived in the house for 40 years--they were the last family to live there. They sold the house to Bud Wiuff and he donated it to the Historical Society. After getting the necessary approvals, our fund-raising committee began efforts to raise $100,000. The house was moved to its current location at 301 SW 3rd St. on August 20, 1995, on ground leased to the Society by the Ankeny School District.
We received more than $83,400 in donations, and $35,000 in-kind services, to move and restore the 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 the house for an Open House event one year later, with a ribbon cutting, ice cream social, and tour — August 25, 1996.
Our museums are also open for tours by appointment, and we are open annually for the Uptown Ankeny Christmas Event in easrly December. Museum tours are given each year for school classes, scout groups, civic organizations, etc. by society members.
The Museum Barn
Ten years after our initial house moving project (which included four years of conversations, three years of negotiations with the school district, two years of planning, and a year of fundraising efforts), we broke ground on a new Barn addition to the Ankeny Area Historical Society Museum. Construction began in May 2005, with hopes to have the Barn Museum addition open by early 2006.
Numerous members, well wishers, volunteers, and dignitaries attended the ceremony where Terrace Elementary third grade teacher Marge Schima and two of her students, John Nelson & Shelby Miller, chiseled out the first shovel of dirt to mark the beginning of the 30' X 70' two-story building. After touring the museums the previous fall, Ms Schima's class raised $20 for the museum. The Barn, now complete and loaded with exhibits, is ready for you to come and explore during one of our open houses.