Newly-restored Monona city park bandstand to be re-dedicated Oct. 21

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Celebrate the restoration of Monona’s 101-year-old city park bandstand at a re-dedication event this Saturday, Oct. 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Celebrate the restoration of Monona’s 101-year-old city park bandstand at a re-dedication event this Saturday, Oct. 21, from 3 to 5 p.m.

The bandstand has served as the center of the community since 1916, when it was constructed in the center of the park by Frank Montgomery, at a cost of $140.

Construction was the culmination of a several-year fundraising push.

“That the park is badly in need of a bandstand no one will deny,” noted an account from 1912, shared in the “Monona, Iowa 1897-1997” centennial history book. “With a band of 30 pieces which has demonstrated its willingness to give a band concert at any and all times, the people should not fail to fall in with the movement for a bandstand and make it successful.”

The bandstand was originally a simpler structure than what people see today.

“It started with a metal frame, and they would put canvas around it,” said Carol Marting, with the Monona Historical Society.

In 1928, the brick railing, brick piers and a roof were added. The project, along with some work on the fountain once located in the park, totaled $500.

Restrooms were constructed directly beneath the bandstand in 1940, and remained operational until 1982. The basement was then filled in.

Although the bandstand received maintenance over the years, by 2016, restoration was needed to ensure the structure’s stability.

A committee came together to begin not only raising funds, but to secure historic preservation contractors to perform the work needed to return the bandstand to its 1928 glory.

Work began this spring and continued through the summer. Among the efforts was the restoration of the cedar-shingled roof, with the addition of copper trim, as well as restoration of the foundation and stairs. Tuck pointing was performed on the brick, while the wooden trim and ceiling were painted. The electricity and lighting were also updated, thanks to the city.

The project totaled roughly $34,000, said Rogeta Halvorson, executive director of Monona Chamber and Economic Development, Inc., who also assisted the committee.

The restoration efforts received several significant contributions, including $5,000 from the Monona Historical Society’s preservation fund, $1,000 from the MFL Lions Club and $1,000 from the Clayton County Foundation for the Future/Darby Family Foundation.

A $10,000 grant the city received from the Wellmark Foundation will go toward the sidewalk/trail around the bandstand.

Local residents were also generous, Halvorson noted.

“Monona is a very giving town,” she said. “Some people gave anonymously and some gave time and materials.”

In addition to a short re-dedication ceremony, Saturday’s event will feature an ice cream social and other refreshments. 

Reminiscent of 1916, four bands will perform, including MFL MarMac’s sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade and high school bands, as well as the National Brass band.

“We’re asking people to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy two hours of music,” Halvorson said.

The event will also allow people to reflect on the bandstand’s history and its place in the Monona community.

“It has a lot of memories for those of us who had family reunions in the park,” shared Elmer Marting, with the Monona Historical Society. “We would play in the bandstand, which the young people presently do today.”

“To me, it’s the last historic city-owned property,” added Elmer’s wife, Carol. “It’s a symbol of times past.”

In the event of rain, the celebration will be held at the Monona Community Center.

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