The mission of the St. Lucas Historical Society is to preserve the past, celebrate our cultural heritage and embrace the future. The Society is a team of active participants from the community and across the Nation who are dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the historic school building, the continued growth and development of the German American Museum, Library and Family History Center, and the celebration of the rich history and cultural heritage of the community.
What We Do
The St. Lucas Historical Society is a growing team of interested folks from the community and across the country who are dedicated to the development and growth and of the German-American Museum, Library and Family History Center. The Museum is in the beautiful 105-year old St. Luke's School Building in St. Lucas, Iowa.
The Society has three primary focus areas:
- Preservation of the school building and blacksmith shop
- Development of the museum
- Celebration of the rich history and cultural heritage of the community
Over the past decade, the Society has focused its energies on restoring and preserving the school building, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Major restoration and preservation projects include:
- Repairing the roof structure and installing new roof shingles
- Tuckpointing the brick facade of the building
- Installing a new climate-control system on all three levels of the building
- Installing a core backup heating system on the 2nd and 3rd levels of the building
- Constructing a new floor and storage area over the old furnace room and
- Repairing and preserving the historic wood-frame windows (ongoing). Matching grants from the Iowa State Historical Society and generous donations from the 250 supporters and community businesses have helped us accomplish these critical preservation goals.
Restoring and preserving this architecturally and culturally unique educational building that houses the museum, library and family history programs is vital to the cultural, educational, historical and psychological well being of the community and adds greatly to the historical and cultural heritage of the region, state and Nation.
As a cultural and historical resource it: serves as a focal point for connecting extended families spread across the region, the state and Nation; facilitates a dialogue between persons with a Germanic ethnic and cultural heritage with their ancestral families in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg; provides an educational opportunity of the current student generation to learn more about their ancestors and ethnic heritage; and serves as a platform for dialogues on various historical topics. This handsome structure, known as St. Luke's School, played a very significant role in the religious, educational, cultural and economic identity of the German, Swiss and Luxembourg migrants families coming to the St. Lucas area and shape their active participation in the broader American cultural and economic tapestry.
Over the past decades, the Society has focused on the development of the Museum, Library and Family History Center. The generous donations of several thousand historic documents, artifacts, photos, books and other materials have allowed our collections to grow rapidly.
The Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area has generously supported the develop of seven theme areas for the Museum collections.
These Museum themes include:
- Why people came to this area from Europe.
- The role of the church and religion in establishing the community.
- The importance of education.
- The critical role of agriculture and industrial arts in the development and growth of the community.
- The role of social organizations.
- The role of sports in shaping community identity, and
- The role of military service in integrating the community into the larger region and nation.
Celebration of the Rich History and Cultural Heritage of the Community.
The third focus area of the Society has been the celebration of the rich heritage of the community. These activities include the annual Christmas Reflections program, the Oktoberfest celebration, history seminars, and classical church music concerts.
We have hosted lectures on family history and topics unique to this area, as well as family gatherings and community social events. We continue to work on the development of these theme areas. Donations of historical materials and artifacts are always most welcome.
Volunteer Efforts are the Lifeblood of Historic Preservation and Museums
Of course, time, talent and treasure are the vital ingredients for any preservation and restoration effort. Most folks are preservationists at heart. Some farmers are saving historic barns and old tools that their fathers and grandfathers built or used. In a few years the large barns and old tools may be rare indeed.
Families are often sorting through old photos, household items and handmade furniture. Please consider donating or loaning to the German American Museum. Then everyone can see and appreciate and future generations can understand what life was like 50, a 100, or even 150 years ago.
The lifeblood of preservation is its supporters, volunteers and members. We would like you to consider how you can participate in some way to strengthen and celebrate historical and cultural preservation in this unique area.
We intend to establish volunteer mornings at the Museum. Wednesdays and Saturdays are our designated days to mobilize volunteers to assist with various tasks at the Museum. The work can be challenging, but hanging out and bonding with friends and people with similar interests always makes it a fun time.
For example, two years ago, the Schaufenbuel sisters visited the Museum and in three hours they cleaned the entire Museum building, helped hang pictures, straightened up the kitchen, dining room and rooms on the first floor, and helped with other minor clean up tasks. Not only was this time gratifying for the “Merry Maids” to help, but the siblings enjoyed looking at various photos and exhibits, enjoyed many laughs sharing memories, and just relished the time of being together.
Please consider volunteering once a month to be a Museum tour guide, help with some aspect of Museum upkeep, or help to organize and document incoming materials and artifacts. Serving as a volunteer at the Museum is a great opportunity for college and high school students needing volunteer hours. Your time will not only benefit a great cause but will be an interesting learning experience.
Please contact the Museum staff via the email contact button and we will be happy to discuss ways you can contribute to the Museum.
St. Lucas Historical Society Board of Directors
- Andrew Blong
- Las Vegas, NV
- Clair Blong, Ph.D.
- Fort Atkinson, IA
- Glenn Blong
- Marco Island, FL
- Matthew Blong
- Marco Island, FL
- Dennis Boyer
- St. Lucas, IA
- Elaine Burke
- Lisbon, IA
- Mel & Jeanette Dietzenbach
- Decorah, IA
- Cy & Judy Kuennen
- Phoenix, AZ
- Dan & Kathy Kuennen
- Waucoma, IA
- Ken Kuennen
- Decorah, IA
- Louis & Bette Kuennen
- Libby, MT
- Samuel & Theresa Kuennen
- Sparks, NV
- Wilfred Kuennen
- West Union, IA
- John & Jennifer Livingston
- Studio City, CA
- Mona Lorimer
- Fayetteville, AK
- DeVere & Virginia Manderfield
- St. Lucas, IA
- John & Diane, Ed.D., McCarty
- Cedar Falls, IA
- Jim & Joyce Moss
- Lansing, IA
- Carl & Rosemary Most
- Rochester, MN
- Markus Most
- Berwyn Heights, MD
- Carroll & Jennifer Nikkel
- Maxwell, IA
- Dee Jay Orthaus
- Decorah, IA
- Richard & Phyllis Orthaus
- New Hampton, IA
- Mary Jo Pennington
- Florence, OR
- William Regnery
- Boca Grande, FL
- Joyce Schaufenbuel
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Dean & Marie Schneberger
- Calmer, IA
- Jerome Smith, M.D.
- Fort Collins, CO
- Robert Smith, Ph.D.
- Hickory, NC
- Leander Stammeyer
- West Union, IA 52175-9691
- John & Joann Svendsen
- St. Lucas, IA
- David Winter
- Chicago, IL