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At first glance the Munson Building might be mistaken for a historic house or even a church but it was actually a community center. Built in 1895, it housed an industrial training school, a library, and a Y.M.C.A branch. It is named after local businessman Perry Munson, who donated $5,000 to build it. In terms of design, the building is a fine example of French Renaissance architecture. It features a red tile roof, a four-sided tower, decorative tin work and terra cotta, arched windows, and an arched main entrance with a figure of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva, located above. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is unclear what the building is used for today.

Built in 1895, the Munson Building served as a community center, industrial training school, and library for several decades. It is named after local businessman, machinist, and Blacksmith Perry Munson, who donated the funds to build it.

Plant, Sky, Window, Building

Perry Munson arrived in Independence in 1855. A skilled machinist and Blacksmith, he built the Munson Block building on Main Street and eventually operated a grocery store. Munson provided the funds for the Munson Building to help ensure high school students could receive training in printing, woodworking, drafting, sewing and in other industrial fields. Training in these areas took place in the basement and third floor. The library was located on the second floor and the Y.M.C.A. was on the third floor. Over the years, the Munson Building was also used by the Boys and Girls Scouts and various community groups. Interestingly, there is a small unmarked tombstone in front of the building marking where the first person to die in Independence—Mrs. Rufus B. Clarke—is buried. Munson died in December 1893, just a few months after construction began. The library was housed in the building until the current facility was built in 2008.

Farber, Dorothy. "Munson Building." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. November 21, 1976.

"Library History." Independence Public Library. Accessed September 15, 2021.

Naffziger, Chris. "Munson Building, Independence, Iowa." St. Louis Patina. July 28, 2021.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Jim Roberts, via Wikimedia Commons: