ELKADER, Iowa — Bids now are being accepted for restoration work on the Motor Mill Historic Site stable in order for it to be used for small events.
The old flour mill site sits on the Turkey River, southeast of Elkader, and is owned by Clayton County Conservation.
“This started with community interest, and I think that’s why it’s a really neat project, and we’re excited to see it come to fruition,” said Clayton County Conservation Executive Director Jenna Pollock. “It’s the right time. The funds were there. We’re just really fortunate.”
The stable most recently has been used for storage, Pollock said, but members of the public began expressing interest in using the building for small events such as family reunions, graduation parties and musical events. She added that the stable should be able to accommodate some of the requests to have weddings on the property as well.
Pollock said the conservation board hopes to see work begin this spring, with a goal of completion before June 30.
Main elements of the project include fixing the stable’s leaking roof, which Pollock said has shingles made out of both steel and asphalt. Repairing or replacing wood siding is also in the plan.
Pollock said the interior floor system also needs work, as the floor support has been “twisted and cobbled together” over time as the stable’s function changed. Pits in the concrete floor, likely from when machines were brought in for dairy operations, also need to be filled and leveled.
She added that plans also include adding an apron outside the building for better access.
Current project estimates are around $50,000, Pollock said. Much of the funds will come through a partnership with the Clayton County Historic Preservation Committee, which was given a $35,000 grant by Upper Mississippi Gaming Corp. to go toward the stable work.
“Obviously, (the committee) wants to see restoration work continue, and they were encouraged with this being a community-forward project,” Pollock said.
Roger Thomas, chairman of the commission, said the partnership between the entities allowed for them to combine forces when applying for the grant. The five-member commission’s role is to help facilitate preservation work throughout Clayton County and tell the county’s history in an interesting way to future generations, he said.
He noted that people are always looking for a place outside to meet, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the stable’s new use will fill in this need.
“For us, it was an easy thing to do, to partner with these folks,” Thomas said. “Why not present more opportunities for people to come and visit?”