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A gazetteer of Agincourt, Fennimore County and the Muskrat Valley in Iowa

Howard A. Tabor is someone you should get to know. He was born in Agincourt in 1945, which makes him about my age. Howard writes for the local newspaper The Daily Plantagenet, though I suspect these days, with declining readership, he does more mundane stuff involving buckets and mops. In preparation for the Sesqui-Centennial celebration in 2007, Tabor began a series of articles on local history under the title “A few figs from thistles…,” a name taken from a collection of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems. Chances are Howard’s column is read even less often than Ms Millay’s poetry. Too bad on both counts.

Some of Tabor’s columns appear elsewhere in this blog. As they do, you might want to keep this page in mind, because this is where you’ll find a compendium of the places he writes about; a spiritually charged landscape very much like your own and perhaps worthy of similar attention. If Agincourt succeeds, it will be largely because it’s just like everywhere else—only more so.

[NB: Personal names mentioned here can also be found in the Who’s Who.]

  • A. F. & A. M.— Ancient Free & Accepted Masons. See: Lodges (Fraternal and Sororal)
  • A. O. A.— Ancient Order of Archers. See: Lodges (Fraternal and Sororal)
  • Academy, The — The easternmost of the four civic blocks was intended by the founders as the site of an institution of higher learning. Episcopalians responded to an open invitation, founding Bishop Kemper Academy (q.v.) in 1868.
  • Adams Restaurant — Opened by Maud (Mrs B.F.) Adams in 1891, it is the city’s oldest continuously operating restaurant, now maintained by fourth-generation members of the Adams family. It is located at 9 SW Louisa.
  • Aerodrome / Airport See: Tri-County Aerodrome
  • Agincourt — The city of Agincourt is named for a military contest of 1415, the decisive English victory over the French in the Hundred Years War. The city’s original mile-square plat [The Mile, q.v.] was filed at the courthouse in Muskrat City on October 25th, 1853; it incorporated on the same day four years later in 1857 and became the county seat in 1861.
  • Agincourt Business College / ABC Founded 1887 and located at the SE corner of the intersection of Louisa Avenue and First Street SW.
  • Agincourt Islamic Center — Established in 2004 at Third and Agincourt NW to serve a growing population of refugees from Somalia and Darfur. It shares “the ecumenical parking lot” with the Jews and Methodists.
  • Agincourt Public Library and Tennant Memorial Gallery — The city’s first purpose-built public library was erected in 1915 at the northeast corner of Broad Street and Agincourt Avenue. Superseded in 1970 by the new Fennimore County Library, the original building became law offices. Though the library has relocated, the Community Collection remains in its original setting, the Tennant Memorial Gallery. (See: Tennant Memorial Gallery) NR
  • Agincourt Street Railway Company — The municipal trolley line was established as a for-profit business in 1910, adjunct to the Northwest Iowa Traction parent company chartered and opened the year before. It followed a lopsided figure-8, crossing at the NITC terminal at Broad and Louisa. Cars ran at about twenty-minute intervals into the 1920s.
  • Alleys — Several of Agincourt’s alleys, courts, lanes and service ways have been named and assigned house numbers (q.v). Among them:
  1. Adams Alley — Named for Maud (Mrs B.F. / Franklin) Adams, it is one block in length and runs n-s from Agincourt to Louisa between Broad and SW First Street.
  2. Carousel — Takes its name from the Carousel in The Commons; it is one block long and runs south from Agincourt to Louisa between Broad and SE First Street.
  3. Crispin Lane — A half block long, it runs westward from Third Street NE toward St. Joseph-the-Carpenter Episcopal Church.
  4. Easy Alley — A half-block extension of Opera Alley (q.v.) between First Street SW and Adams Alley, it draws its populist name from Mrs Miller’s Enterprise, Agincourt’s first purpose-built house of prostitution.
  5. Lilac Court — A T-shaped configuration of existing alleys in Block E-15 resulting from a replat of the 1920s.
  6. Opera Alley — Agincourt’s first named alley, it is one block long and runs from First to Second Streets SW between Agincourt and Louisa; it is south of The Auditorium and the Old Federal Building.
  7. Roger Williams — Named for Roger Williams, early American Baptist leader and founder of Rhode Island, it forms the south and partial west sides of the Baptist church lot before continuing westward to Third Street SW.
  • Archer Avenue State Highway #7 passes along the north edge of the original townsite; within the city limits, it has been renamed Archer Avenue and is unofficially applied to other lengths of the highway within Fennimore County. [Archer Avenue has a special place in my heart: a street of that same name runs through the village where I was born; my father’s gas station was located at #6455 (Globe 8-9563).] In Agincourt, Archer Avenue, a.k.a. Hiway #7, is the quickest route to Archer Stadium (q.v.).
  • Archer Stadium — The baseball field at the county fairgrounds is home to a Double-A team, The Archers. The stadium is also used by the athletic department of Northwest Iowa Normal and for many years by the Agincourt High School team, the Muskrats. (See: bridges—Lover’s Leap)
  • Armitage-Shanks — Bespoke plumbers, founded by Mason Armitage and Henry “Hank” Shanks in 1999. Their motto: “Flushed with pride!”
  • Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church — Methodists have been on the northwest church lot since the Civil War. The present building (now Asbury United Methodist Church / UMC) was erected in 1919-1920 from plans by Des Moines architects Liebbe, Nourse & Rasmussen. It shares “the ecumenical parking lot” with Jews and Muslims. NR
  • Auditorium, The — Replaced Harney’s Orpheum as the largest venue for performance and community events. When Harney’s burned in 1893, a stock company of local business and cultural interests formed to promote a new, larger facility for touring companies and local cultural events. You’ll find it at Agincourt Avenue and First Street SW. NR
  • Avenue, The — Abbreviated reference to Agincourt Avenue, the city’s principal east-west thoroughfare. Agincourt Avenue splits for four blocks of its length to accommodate two public open spaces and two institutions: the country court house and the Episcopal girls school, Bishop Kemper Academy (q.v.).
  • Avenues (Names and Numbering) — See: Streets (Names and Numbering)
  • Band Books — When Hamish Brooke’s shop, Shelf Life, changed hands in 1960 (as an estate sale), it passed through several half-hearted attempts to keep the business going — without much financial benefit. Brookes sold books reluctantly, because you collect them; they’re certainly not objects of commerce. Making a purchase from Hamish involved what amounted to an interview: Were you worthy to be entrusted with this tome? Recently, however, it has come into the ownership of <name> who, in the spirit of current political discourse, has changed the business to “Band Books”, which have nothing whatsoever to do with high school music instruction. Their specialty is gently used books, of course, but especially those of troubled lineage, determined “dangerous” in certain parts. We wish them well. [See: Shelf Life]
  • Baptist Church / Fellowship — Located circa 1868-1870 on the southwest church lot. It was built by former Indian Agent Amos Beddowes and may have been designed by him. It is the oldest church building in the county still used by its original congregation. NR
  • Barrens, The — A bleak section of land five miles southeast of Agincourt, on the road to Nimby, the alkaline soil of The Barrens makes it unsuitable for either crops or grazing.
  • deBijenkorf — Department store at the southwest corner of Broad and Agincourt; founded by the van der Rijn family. Bijenkorf means “beehive” in Dutch.
  • Bishop Kemper Academy / The Academy — The founders intended Agincourt to have an institution of higher learning, public or private. Bishop Kemper Academy was the Episcopal response to an open invitation in 1868 as a private school for young women. After its closing, the vacant buildings served briefly as a hospital during the influenza epidemic of 1918. Roman Catholics leased the buildings for us as a parish school, and Udum Fokker subsequently re-established another private academy briefly in the 1930s.
  • Blenheim, The Hotel at the corner of First Street SW and Agincourt Avenue.
  • Bon-Ton Cafe — A south side eating establishment since about 1900, the Bon-Ton has been at three locations, including the former NITC interurban depot.
  • Boulevard, The — Following a public presentation by urban design advocate Charles Mulford Robinson, Agincourt’s adventure in “City Beautiful” planning transformed two blocks of North Broad Street between Fennimore and Ralph avenues into a boulevard with a landscaped median. [Not without controversy, it was claimed this would re-route the new trolley line and spare the houses of the upper class.]
  • Bridges — The Muskrat River and Crispin Creek are crossed by several bridges:
  1. Avenue Bridge — Agincourt Avenue extends westward across the Muskrat.
  2. Broad Street Bridge — Broad Street bridge extends southward across Crispin Creek.
  3. Cheshire Bridge — railroad trestle on the former Milwaukee Road right-of-way a few miles west of the Muskrat crossing.
  4. Fairgrounds Bridge — NITC trolley tracks extend westward from Ralph Avenue to serve the Fairgrounds across the Muskrat.
  5. Gnostic Bridge — From the intersection of Thoreau and SE Sixth Street, Gnostic Bridge crosses Crispin Creek and connects with the section-line roads.
  6. Highway #7 Bridge — Highway #7 at the northern edge of the Original Townsite continues westward across the Muskrat and runs along the north edge of the county fairgrounds.
  7. “Lovers’ Leap” — Pedestrian suspension bridge across the Muskrat between the Normal School / NIN and the fairgrounds. There is no record of anyone actually having lept.
  8. Railway Bridge — Milwaukee Road mainline tracks run along the southern edge of the Original Townsite and then cross the Muskrat near the Old Mill and its weir.
  9. The Uncovered Bridge — Built in the 1870s as a traditional covered bridge, this lost its top during a severe thunderstorm and was never rebuilt.
  • Brinkman Township Schoolhouse — Situated about six miles east of Agincourt (half way to Grou on County Road GG) the schoolhouse that once served Brinkman Township closed in 1920. It sat vacant until the 1950s when it was purchased and renovated as “Tottering-on-the-Brink,” the home of polymath Abel Kane, whose mother E.G. Fromm also lived there until her death in 1955.
  • Burbank & Nakamura — Nursery and greenhouse on East Avenue at the city limits; adjacent to the three cemeteries.
  • Carousel, The — When the Rufini Brothers brought their circus to the fairgrounds in 1933, pursuing creditors foreclosed on the hapless band. A last-minute solution saved the circus and left the city with a carousel and made Sheriff Pyne the hero of the day. In storage for several years, it was moved to The Commons and restored as a bi-centennial project. NR
  • Cemeteries and Burial Grounds (See: individual entries):
    1. Grou Dutch Reformed Cemetery
    2. Hebrew Burial Ground
    3. Saint Ahab Catholic Cemetery
    4. The Shades (Protestant non-denominational cemetery)
    5. Wester/Westerling Cemetery
  • Cermak’s Market — Home-owned greengrocer and meat market on South Broad Street; operated by members of the Cermak family since 1948.
  • Chautauqua — See: Fennimore County Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle
  • Christ the King Roman Catholic Church — The county’s finest  example of mid-century modern, the Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King was built in 1951 from designs by Chicago architect Francis Barry Byrne. It replaced the second of two previous buildings dedicated to the obscure 4th century martyr St Ahab (q.v.). NR
  • Church Lots — The Founders provided four polygonal blocks, flanking the four civic blocks like sacramental parentheses, as sites for houses of worship. Allocated by lottery, they were awarded to the Methodists, Episcopalians, Catholics and Baptists. Presbyterians received a compensatory half block north of The Square.
  • Church of Christ, Scientist — The Neo-classical church at the northwest corner of Broad and Fennimore was a design collaboration between two architects who were early converts to Christian Science, Chicagoan S.S. Beman and Californian Bernard Maybeck. Beman designed many Christian Science churches throughout the Midwest; Maybeck designed just one in Berkeley, California — but it’s a doozie.
  • Churches See: Religion
  • City Hall — A WPA product of 1938, Agincourt’s City Hall was built in the 100 Block of Agincourt Avenue NW opposite the county courthouse.
  • Cliff’s Garage — A gasoline station and auto repair shop owned and operated by Cliff Pherson at the northeast corner of South Broad Street and May Avenue.
  • Colony, The — A group of artists established a summer colony at Sturm und Drang from about WWI into the 1940s. During the 1920s, they held an annual exhibit at the Agincourt library. Several works from those exhibitions have become part of the Tennant Memorial Gallery permanent collection.
  • Commercial Club — Businessmen’s Association which met monthly on the fourth floor of Hansa Haus (q.v.).
  • Common Ground — Parades welcomed doughboys returning from World War I but little else eased their re-entry to civilian life. Mindful of their sacrifices—physical as well as financial—a syndicate of Agincourt citizens bought shares in a scheme that transformed one block in the southeast quarter. Bounded by Fourth and Fifth streets SE and May and Alcott avenues, the block was replatted with smaller lots. Duplex homes—one above or beside the other—were offered at lower interest rates to anyone who had served the war effort.
  • Commons, The — Twin to The Square (q.v.), this is the site of Agincourt’s bandstand and its more casual entertainments on weekends and summer nights. The public comfort station on the southwest corner once served as a temporary interurban depot. The Commons was the scene of Dr Reinhold Kolb‘s puppet theatre during the 1930s.
  • Community Collection — Not so much a place as a thing, the Community Collection is a public trust, a collection of more than two hundred works of art housed in the Tennant Memorial Gallery in the old Agincourt Public Library. It began as an annual exhibit in the G.A.R. Hall in the second Fennimore Co. courthouse in 1912.
  • Conservatory of Music — Semi-autonomous music school, a collaboration between NINC and what began in the 1890s as a private conservatory. Swedish concert pianist Per-Edvard-Anders Lund came to be its head in 1934 when his concert career ended; Lund was an early victim of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Copernicus Elementary School — Nicolaus Copernicus School (K-6) is located in the southwest School Lot.
  • Council Ring (also Counsel Ring) — A loosely organized ring of granite boulders on the north bank of Crispin Creek with a varied and colorful past.
  • Crispin Creek — From its source near Grou about thirteen miles northeast of Agincourt, Crispin Creek flows southwestward toward the Muskrat. The creek effectively forms the southern boundary of the original Agincourt townsite.
  • Culp’s Court — An early tourist court/motel at the Agincourt Avenue approach to the Muskrat/Avenue bridge; operated into the 1930s.
  • Daily Plantagenet Building / Planetary Publishing — at the southeast corner of Broad Street and Fennimore Avenue.
  • Darrow Elementary School — Clarence Darrow School (K-6) is located in the northeast School Lot.
  • Darwin Elementary School — Charles Darwin School (K-6) is situated on the northwest School Lot. [I really didn’t think this was possible in 21st century America—a public school named for Charles Darwin—but miracles happen (the Tea Party, MAGA and
    Christian Nationalism notwithstanding). There is, indeed, a Charles R. Darwin Public School at 3116 West Belden Avenue in my own hometown of Chicago. Go, Cubbies!]
  • deBijenkorf — The Beehive [See: Bijenkorf, de]
  • Ecumenical Parking Lot — At the center of the northwest Church Lot block (bounded by Agincourt and James avenues and Second and Third streets) the parking lot has grown to serve Methodists on Sundays, Jews on Saturday and Muslims on Friday.
  • Equus & Co. — 19th-century stable located at 112-114 First Street SW; it made the uneasy transition from horses to automobiles and continued to serve through the war years as a garage and auto body shop. Owned by Oliver and Byron Allen and their brother-in-law James Campbell.
  • Fahnstock — Village nine miles west of Agincourt on Highway #7. Founded by Elias Fahnstock. Now a bedroom community of Agincourt and gateway to the lake country. [See: Half-way House]
  • Fahnstock Aerodrome Fennimore county’s earliest airport dates to the 1930s when it was used mostly by crop dusters and the U.S. mail. (See: Tri-County Airport)
  • Farmers Mechanics & Merchants Bank / The F.M.& M. / F+M+M — The Farmers, Mechanics & Merchants Bank organized in 1895, merging two former banks (Farmers & Mechanics Savings Bank and Merchants National). Their new building has been at 2 North Broad Street since 1909.
  • Fennimore County Named for American author James Fenimore Cooper, the county’s enabling legislation misspelled his name, an error that has never been corrected.
  • Fennimore County Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle — Incorporated in 1899, the association’s facilities were constructed on and shared with the Fennimore County Agricultural and Mechanical Association (a.k.a. County Fair). In 1910, a spur line of the city trolley was routed past the new Normal School and over the Muskrat River on a wood trestle.
  • Fennimore County Court Houses — The original townsite provided a block at its center for a courthouse, though at that time the county seat had been located at Muskrat City, five miles south. Three successive courthouses have occupied this block, in 1862 (relocated from Muskrat City and enlarged), 1889, and following a lightening strike, the most recent in 1966.
  • Fennimore County Fair Grounds — The quarter square mile adjacent to Agincourt’s northwest corner was set aside in 1856 for use of the Fennimore County Agricultural & Mechanical Association. Reshaped by a highway rerouting project, it grew to be the home of other community institutions: the Chautauqua Association, the Archers baseball stadium and the athletic fields for Northwest Iowa Normal. The fairgrounds were served by a spur line of the city’s trolley line and a pedestrian bridge built jointly with the Normal School.
  • Fennimore County Heritage Center — The Vakkerdahl Farm and Beautiful Valley Creamery were deeded to the Fennimore County Historical Society in 1976 and developed as a living farm museum.
  • Fennimore County High School — In 1953, Agincourt’s high school changed its name, scope and location, serving a county-wide audience from a new suburban site on Broad Street north of Highway #7.
  • Fennimore County Public Library — Library service received a county-wide mill levy in 1969, allowing construction of a new facility on SE Second Street near Christ the King Catholic church. It absorbed the former Agincourt Public Library on The Commons, which was converted for use as law offices. There is a movement afoot to rename the library for environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
  • Fennimore Farms — The county’s largest agri-business (a food processing facility) is located in the West Bank Industrial Park (q.v.).
  • Founders’ Fountain — In 1907 a public fountain was built in the exact center of the original townsite to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Agincourt’s incorporation. John Philip Sousa’s “March to Agincourt” was written and performed for its dedication that year. Recently the fountain has been moved to the adjacent sidewalk on the east side of the street in The Commons. NR
  • “The Franklin” — Apartment building at 123 First Street NW; Agincourt’s first intentional apartment building.
  • Full Faith and Credit / F²C / FFC Market — Market at Fifth Street and Henry Avenue SE operated by Mrs Fern Pirtle. Asked about the acronymic name of her establishment, Mrs Pirtle replied “Why, Full Faith and Credit, of course.”
  • Gaol (city-county) — See: Jail
  • Gladden Gallery — Operated circa 1925–1955 at 105 North Broad Street by owners Edith and Monroe Gladden.
  • Gnostic Bridge — Gnostic Bridge crosses Crispin Creek near the southeast corner of the Original Townsite and connects with the intersection of Thoreau Avenue and SW Sixth Street.
  • Gnostic Grove (aka Nasty Groove) — An open space surrounded by trees along the south bank of Crispin Creek at the end of Third Street SE; thought to have been a Native American meeting place because of the ring of boulders at its center.
  • Government Buildings:
    1. Agincourt City Hall — 111 West Agincourt Avenue
    2. City-County Jail / Gaol — 121 West Agincourt Avenue
    3. Fennimore County Courthouse — West Agincourt Avenue between First and Second Streets SW
    4. Fennimore County Highway Department — Highway #7 west of the Muskrat River, opposite the Fairgrounds entrance
    5. Fennimore County Public Library — Louisa Avenue and Second Street SE
    6. U.S. Federal Building and Post Office — 120 Agincourt Avenue SW at Second Street.
  • Grace — Couturier shop of Grace Arbogast located at 12 East James.
  • Greta Thunberg Public Library — formerly the Fennimore County Public Library
  • Grou — A village in Fennimore County eleven miles northeast of Agincourt; founded by Dutch colonists who settled the area about 1890.
  • Half-way House Restaurant / station / hotel at the Northwest Iowa Traction turn-off to Resort and the lake district. Half-way House was a popular destination for motorists in the 1930s. A flag stop on the NITC.
  • Hansa House (also Hansa Haus) — Headquarters of the German-American Insurance Co. & Shipping Agency, located at 8 North Broad Street.
  • Harney’s Orpheum / The Orpheum — Agincourt’s first theater seated about 300 at the southwest corner of Agincourt Avenue and First Street SW. The Auditorium (q.v.) replaced it following an 1893 fire.
  • Haven, The — Home of the Fennimore County Animal Shelter, founded in 1895 on the county fairgrounds and now located on East Highway #7, in conjunction with Pads, Paws & Claws.
  • Hazzard House — Accident-prone hotel formerly at the SE corner of Agincourt Avenue and First Street SW; replaced in 1900 by The Blenheim, following a final disastrous fire.
  • Hearthstone Manufacturing — Manufacturing facility established about 1910 by Rockford, Illinois investor David Parmelee; the plant was managed by his son-in-law Aiden Archer. It produced enameled cookware in a factory in the new west bank industrial park. A Hearthstone basin served as baptismal font at St Joseph-the-Carpenter Episcopal Church until replaced by one crafted by Richard Gruchalla and Carrin Rosetti.
  • Hebrew Cemetery or Burial Ground — Jews in Fennimore County lacked a burial ground until 1890, when a former nursery near the other two cemeteries was acquired and consecrated for burial according to Jewish custom. Some burials were removed from The Shades.
  • Hemphill-Folsom Mortuary — Fennimore County’s oldest funeral home is located in a former single-family house at 16 NE Agincourt Avenue. Founded by Moses Hemphill in 1868, it was acquired by the Folsom family in the 1890s and continues in their ownership today. Hemphill-Folsom has been at this location since the 1920s.
  • Hetty Pegler’s Tump — You want fish and chips? Stop at Hetty Pegler’s in The Auditorium some evening for a “BT/FC” (“black-and-tan” and “fish-and-chips”). You’ll thank me.
  • Highway #7 — State highway running along the north edge of the Original Townsite; portions are also known as “Archer Avenue” and “The Strip”.
  • Hill Feed & Seed Animal feed and crop seed business located on South Broad Street, opposite the Milwaukee Depot.
  • Homestead, The — The home built and occupied by Amos and Cissy Beddowes in what became Riverside Park. Their home predates the founding of Agincourt. NR
  • Hotels, Motels and Tourist Courts: [See also: Sturm & Drang]
    1. The Blenheim — Agincourt Avenue and First Street SW
    2. Culp’s Court — early tourist court on West Agincourt Avenue near the Muskrat / Avenue Bridge
    3. Hazzard House — accident prone from its opening, the old Hazzard House at SW First Street and the Avenue burned and was replaced by The Blenheim.
    4. The Park Hotel — Agincourt Avenue and Second Street SE
    5. UCT Hotel — Broad Street and Louis SW, above the NITC Terminal
  • House Numbering — The zero-zero point for house numbering begins in the center of Broad Street, half way between the two sections of Agincourt Avenue, eastbound and westbound; it is marked with a bonze surveyor’s pin. Beginning there with zero, each block increases by 100. [See also: Street Numbering]
  • Howard’s Dead End — Country home near Fahnstock of Phyllis Tabor and her good friend and frequent visitor author ffiona Spaulding-Graff.
  • Hump, The — Sometimes called The Mound. Site of a pre-European burial excavated in the 1920s by the State Archaeologist. Situated near the southeast corner of the southeast School Lot, it caused the rerouting of Third Street SE and partial abandonment of the right-of-way.
  • Industry — Refers to: 1) the concentration of manufacturing facilities that evolved in the lowland of the city’s southwest quarter, and 2) a transit station on the municipal street railway that served the area.
  • Ingersoll House — See: Why, The
  • Jail (city-county) — See: Gaol
  • Keller’s Bed & Board — Working man’s hotel at the south end of Broad Street, opposite the train station.
  • Keller’s Cellar — Liquor store on South Broad Street operated by Wolfgang Keller. Keller’s wife Elsa operated a hotel at the southern end of Broad Street, Keller’s Bed & Board.
  • Koffee Kup / K2 — The Koffee Kup at 12 North Broad has been a community favorite since its founding in the 1930s. Particularly busy in the morning and mid-afternoon, many deals have been closed over coffee and a slice of rhubarb pie.
  • Kraus Bridge & Iron — Anton and Emma Kraus emigrated from their native Thuringia to Agincourt in the mid 1880s, opening a blacksmith shop at the foot of Louisa Avenue SW, just beyond the city limits.The original foundry has been preserved as an art center operated in conjunction with the local college and county school district.
  • Last Resort, The — Among the earliest hotels at Sturm & Drang’s summer colony, Bagby’s, a.k.a. The Last Resort, was also the farthest from the Station-Store — hence the “last” resort.
  • Lodges (Fraternal and Sororal) — This partial list of Agincourt’s fraternal and sororital organizations includes:
  • Libraries:
    1. Agincourt Public Library & Tennant Memorial Gallery
    2. Fennimore County (now Greta Thunberg) Public Library — (see: below)
    3. Greta Thunberg Public Library — (see: above)
    4. Northwest Iowa Normal School / NITC
    5. Why, The — Book collection of Agincourt’s association of non-believers.
  • Lilac Court — See: Alleys
  • Lincoln Telephone Company — Fennimore county’s first telephone service; later absorbed into the Bell system. It was located at the southeast corner of Broad Street and Fennimore Avenue.
  • Little Ones — Agincourt’s first kindergarten. Built on the northeast “church lot” in the 1890s, the building was enlarged and subsequently sold and occupied as a single-family residence.
  • Lodges (Fraternal and Sororal) — This partial list of Agincourt’s fraternal and sororal organizations includes:
  1. Ancient Order of Archers / A.O.A. — Fraternal order.
  2. Eastern Stars — Women’s counterpart to the Masons.
  3. Masonic Lodge / A.F. & A.M. — Agincourt’s Masonic Lodge once occupied a building where the public library was built in 1915. Their tragic fire of 1912 opened the way for that site to be repurposed, as the lodge relocated across Broad Street into a third floor added to the Farmers Mechanics & Merchants Bank.
  4. United Commercial Travelers / U.C.T. — A local chapter of the national fraternity of traveling salesmen. They met for many years at the UCT Hotel (q.v.) above the NITC depot at Broad and SW Louisa.
  • Luke, the Physician — Agincourt’s earliest hospital was located at the southwest corner of First and Louisa SW. It has since moved to a suburban site on North Broad Street. The building is now occupied as Medical Arts (q.v.).
  • Lutheran Church — At the northeast corner of First and Cooper NW you will find the community’s Scandinavian Lutheran church built in 1914 from a design by Torgeir Alvsaker.
  • Masonic Lodge / A.F. & A.M. — See: Lodges (Fraternal and Sororal)
  • McElligot’s Hole — A popular swimming place formed by a sharp bend in the Muskrat River. [With grateful acknowledgment to Dr Ted Geisel!]
  • McPherson’s Garage — See: Cliff’s Garage
  • Medical Arts Building — The Medical Arts clinic replaced the original Luke, the Physician hospital at First and Louisa SW in 1936. Also known as the Healing Arts Building. The building itself was constructed in late 1935 through the Works Progress Administration created by Executive Order No. 7034.
  • Memorials (public and private):
  1. Lusitania Memorial — Erected in 1916 to commemorate the sinking of RMS Lusitania, this monument is in the northwest corner of The Commons, on axis with the entrance to the former Agincourt Public Library.
  2. The Obelisk — The Obelisk (q.v.) is certainly monumental, though a monument to what is open to conjecture.
  3. War Memorials (various) — Memorials to U.S. wars and other conflicts are clustered in The Square, just east of the courthouse.
  4. “The Holt Stone” — A boulder in memory of Harold Russell Holt was set in the Council Ring at The Grove in 2002.
  5. “Alec and Margaret” — A two-stemmed tree lilac was planted at The Grove in their memory in 1995.
  6. Zero-Zero — Bronze marker at the center of the Original Townsite.
  • Mesopotamia — “The Land Between the Rivers” is a loosely defined neighborhood in the Southwest Quarter, a flood zone of modest buildings with its own unofficial law enforcement. (See also: Full Faith & Credit / FFC Market)
  • Mile, The — Popular reference to the original mile-square townsite. “Suburban” development like The Orchard and Riverside occurred outside The Mile.
  • Mill, The — Can refer to either the Occidental Mill or the Syndicate Mill(s) (q.v.).
  • Milwaukee Road — Running west from Broad Street along the south edge of the Original Townsite, Milwaukee Road defines a portion of the city where light industry was situated. Besides the CMStP&P passenger depot, the city’s lumber and coal yards were located here.
  • “Mom, I’m sorry” — See: below
  • Montessori Academy — [a.k.a., “Mom, I’m sorry!”] Founded in the mid-1950s by Mary Grace Tabor at the corner of Second and Louisa SE.
  • Moody’s Resort — Popular resort on the west shore of Sturm und Drang; it was operated by Stan and Estelle Moody.
  • Motte & Bailey Dealers in lumber and coal from about 1875 until they were bought out by the Sawyer family.
  • Mound, The — See: Hump, The
  • Mrs Miller’s Enterprise — Agincourt’s first house of ill repute, located behind Miller’s Tobacco Shop on the eastern extension of Opera Alley, a half-block long lane more popularly known as Easy Alley for obvious reasons. It is named for Annabelle “Belle” Miller, who was herself not easy, though her employees were coöperative to a fault.
  • Muskrat City — Earliest settlement in Fennimore County and the county’s first seat of government. Its river-bottom site proved flood prone, however, so the court house was moved (literally) to Agincourt in 1861.
  • Muskrat Mill See: Occidental Mill
  • Muskrat River — Principal watercourse of Fennimore county and a tributary of the Missouri River, the Muskrat is no longer navigable but it did provide water power for early industry. (See: Syndicate Mills)
  • Muskrat Valley Power Co. Serves Fennimore and adjacent counties. Headquartered in the former NITC depot at Broad and Louisa; its coal-powered power plant is located in the west bank industrial park.
  • Nasty Groove — See: Gnostic Grove
  • Needle & Haystack — Printers and publishers.
  • Nimby — A town in southeastern Fennimore Co. near The Barrens (q.v.). Don’t go there.
  • Northwest Iowa Normal School / NIN — Built originally as an orphanage, its closure encouraged the local business community to press for establishment of a new Normal School, which was opened in 1914. It occupies multiple blocks at the northwest corner of the original townsite, where Highway #7 crosses the Muskrat. “Lover’s Leap” (q.v.) connects the campus to the fair grounds across the Muskrat for a shared use of the athletic fields.
  • Northwest Iowa Traction Company / NITC — An interurban or traction company was incorporated in late 1908 and the first service ran in September 1909 between Fort Dodge and Agincourt. The line advanced westward toward either Sioux City or Omaha, but was only completed to Storm Lake. Seasonal summer service was run to the colony at Sturm und Drang (q.v.). Company headquarters at Broad Street and Louisa opened in 1909, accommodating rental stores, the Bon-Ton Cafe and UCT Hotel. It has subsequently been redeveloped as corporate offices for the Muskrat Valley Power Co. (q.v.) (See: Agincourt Street Railway Co.) NR
  • Obelisk, The — A former windmill was sided with cement asbestos panels some time around 1890 and became an obelisk in the spirit of the Washington Monument. NR
  • Occidental Mill — A dam and water-powered mill were built at the foot of Agincourt Avenue on the Muskrat soon after Agincourt was platted in 1853. It was built and operated by the Davison family until acquired by the Fennimore Co. Historical Society.
  • Okkema Farms — Located at Grou since the 1880s, Okkema Farms has provided Fennimore County with dairy products and pork for 120 years.
  • Orchard, The — Agincourt’s first modest suburban extension involved a replatting of outlots between Sixth Street NW and the river. These were marketed in late 1947 as “The Orchard,” referring to apple orchards that once occupied the site. (See also: Riverside Addition)
  • Orpheum, The — see: Harney’s Orpheum
  • Pads, Paws & Claws — Veterinary clinic located on East Hi-way #7 where it crosses Crispin Creek. The name derives from a children’s book circa 1910 with that title, written by W. P. Pycraft and illustrated by Edwin Noble. Somehow they should have found a way to include “hooves”.
  • Pandora Lock & Key — Long term lock and key-smiths; their slogan: “Are you sure you want that opened?”
  • Parks & Recreation:
    1. Fennimore County Fairgrounds — west bank of the Muskrat River, north of the Agincourt Avenue Bridge
    2. The Commons — East side of Broad Street, Zero Block
    3. The Commons — West side of Broad Street, Zero Block
    4. Gnostic Grove — South bank of Crispin Creek at the foot of Third Street SE
    5. The Mound — SE corner of the SE School Block
    6. Riverside Park—West Agincourt Avenue and the Muskrat River
    7. Saddle & Cycle—North bank of Crispin Creek, east of the city limits
  • Periodic Table — Innovative cuisine in the former Wasserman Hardware, northwest corner of Broad and James.
  • Perin’s Market — 100 Block of South Broad Street.
  • Prairie Playhouse / Players — Little Theatre company founded by Seamus Tierney. They used various facilities until being firmly settled at The Auditorium.
  • Railroad Depot — See: Milwaukee Road
  • Red Raven Espresso Parlor — One of the community’s newer entertainment venues, the Red Raven occupies a discreet space on Carousel.
  • Reinhardt Hall — Performing Arts facility at Northwest Iowa Normal.
  • Religion / Places of Worship [See: individual congregations]:
    1. Agincourt Baptist Fellowship (ABC) — West Agincourt Avenue at Second Street SW
    2. Agincourt Islamic Center — West Agincourt Avenue at Third Street NW
    3. Asbury United Methodist Church — Agincourt Avenue at Second Street NW
    4. Christ the King Roman Catholic Church (formerly Saint Ahab’s) — East Agincourt Avenue at Second Street SE
    5. First Church of Christ, Scientist / Christian Science — North Broad Street at Fennimore Ave NW
    6. First Lutheran Church (ELCA) — First Street NW at Cooper Avenue
    7. First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) — the former Presbyterian Church, located at Agincourt Avenue and First Street NW in 1874, burned in 1975; the congregation currently meets at Asbury UMC
    8. Saint Ferreolus — Interfaith chapel at the Station-Store on Sturm u. Drang
    9. Saint Joseph-the-Carpenter Episcopal Church (PECUSA) — East Agincourt Avenue at Second Street NE
    10. Temple Emanu-El / Synagogue (Reform) — James Avenue NW between Second and Third
  • Resort / Resort P.O. — By the summer of 1910, the NITC interurban had established a branch line to serve the growing resort enclave around Lakes Sturm & Drang. The Station-Store sold tickets and provided shelter to passengers waiting for the train, as well as selling provisions to local residents. It was also a post office through WWII. [For a list of resorts, see: Sturm & Drang]
  • Resorts — See: Sturm und Drang / Sturm & Drang (Lakes); River Rats
  • Richard Elementary School — Martin Richard Elementary School (K-6) is located in the southeast School Lot. It is named for the eight-year-old boy who died in the Boston Marathon terrorist attack on April 15th, 2013. The school had previously been called Southeast Elementary.
  • River Rats, The — Squatters along the west bank of the Muskrat built fishing shacks and boathouses as a low cost alternative to more costly summer homes at Sturm und Drang.
  • Riverside Addition — Agincourt’s first “suburb,” Riverside consists of four irregular blocks between Sixth Street NW and the Muskrat river. Some of the city’s best “Mid-century Modern” houses were built there. (See also: Orchard, The)
  • Riverside Park — An ox bow of the Muskrat just south of the Agincourt Avenue bridge defines Riverside Park, part of the original Amos and Circe Beddowes homestead. The Beddowes homestead is preserved as headquarters for the Garden Club.
  • Roost, The — Bar and bowling alley on Highway #7, opposite the entrance to the Fair Grounds. Owned and operated by Harry Pogemiller, renowned for his photographic memory.
  • Roundhouse — The graceful Milwaukee Road roundhouse was a short-lived player in Agincourt’s industrial past. Its fondations can be seen on the wedge of land between the railroad right-of-way and Crispin Creek.
  • St Ahab Catholic Cemetery — Some Roman Catholic burials were accommodated along the south side of the first parish church, dedicated to St. Ahab. These were relocated by 1870 when an ordinance made human interment within city limits illegal. The cemetery chapel is the former Catholic church that served Agincourt and Grou before being relocated here; Rev. Frances Manning is buried beneath it.
  • St Ahab Catholic Church — Agincourt’s first Roman Catholic church. The original church, designed and built by Fr Francis Manning, has been relocated twice: first to Grou in 1890, when a replacement church was built; second in 1919 to St. Ahab’s Catholic Cemetery, where it has served as a memorial and mortuary chapel. (See: Christ the King Roman Catholic Church)
  • St Ahab Chapel — Attendant to Christ the King Roman Catholic Church (q.v.); added in 2018. The chapel houses relics of the 3rd century saint and martyr, as well as an Orthodox icon representing his martyrdom. So far, no unexplained cures are associated with it.
  • St Crispin Chapel — Built in 1915 from a design by Anson Tennant, this chapel is dedicated to Sts. Crispin and Crispinian, on whose feast day the Battle of Agincourt was fought in 1415. The chapel is attached to St. Joseph-the-Carpenter Episcopal Church and its crypt serves as the Tennant family burial place.
  • St Joseph-the-Carpenter Episcopal Church — The Episcopal church was built at Agincourt Avenue and Second Street NW in 1878 (attributed to architect Henry Dudley). Des Moines architects Proudfoot & Bird of Des Moines remodeled and enlarged that building twenty years later in 1898. Then Anson Tennant added the St. Crispin Chapel in 1915. At some point the former chapel of Kemper Academy had been relocated to St Joe’s and adapted as the Parish Hall.
  • Salmagundi — Fine jewelry store at 23 North Broad Street.
  • Sawyer’s Lumber & Coal — Lumberyard along the Milwaukee road right-of-way immediately west of the depot. They bought the business started by Messrs Motte & Bailey.
  • School Lots — Each quadrant of the original townsite included a large block designated for public education. In each case they are bounded by Second and Third streets and Third and Fourth avenues (though the avenues have been renamed for Transcendental authors). See: Schools (public and private)
  • Schools (public and private) — Public education was provided by the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 and has been a presence in Agincourt from its origin. Privately-funded and church-affiliated schools have also been available since 1868. Among them are:
  1. Agincourt Business College / ABC
  2. Agincourt High School (now Fennimore County High School)
  3. St Ahab’s School (grades 1 through 8; Roman Catholic)
  4. Nicolaus Copernicus Elementary School (NE)
  5. Clarence Darrow Elementary School (SW)
  6. Charles Darwin Elementary School (NW)
  7. Bishop Kemper Academy (Episcopal Church affiliation)
  8. The Little Ones (kindergarten)
  9. Montessori Academy (a.k.a., “Mom, I’m Sorry)
  10. Northwest Iowa Normal School (now Northwest Iowa College)
  11. Martin Richard Elementary School (SE)
  • Shades, The — Largest of Agincourt’s three cemeteries, The Shades was organized about 1865 as the Protestant/non-denominational burial ground. Some of its earliest interments were community casualties during the Civil War. Visitors are greeted with an admonition in ancient Greek: τεθνήκαμεν. σώζετε δάκρυα ζώσιν (“We are dead. Save tears for the living.”)
  • Shelf Life Dealer in new, out-of-print, and the occasional rare volume, Shelf Life has been located at 114 North Broad Street, above Vandervort’s Bakery, since its founding in the 1930s by Hamish Brookes.
  • Silsbee Inn, The Named for the architect who designed the original house in 1889, The Silsbee Inn began its life as the new home of James and Martha Tennant. Enlarged by their son Anson Tennant in about 1908, it later served as a hospice run by Anson’s mother. It became a bed and breakfast in 1995. NR
  • Smith’s Resort / Hotel Among the oldest resorts on the south and west shore of Sturm & Drang, Smith’s Resort operated from about 1890 under the ownership of Wilson Smith. It sat a half mile from the Station-Store and Resort stop of the Northwest Iowa Traction Co., which improved access after 1909.
  • Square, The Bounded by Agincourt Avenue, Broad and First St. West, this is the site of the county’s memorials to the Nation’s multiple conflicts.
  • Station-Store, The — The NITC extended a line to the eastern shore of Sturm und Drang in 1910. A country general store and rural post office already located there became “The Station-Store.” A motor launch from the Station-Store dock served resorts around the lake. From WWI into the 1940s, it was also the heart of an artists’ colony. [see also: Resort]
  • Street Railway — See: Agincourt Street Railway Co.
  • Streets (Names) — In the original Agincourt townsite, with the exception of Agincourt Avenue and Broad Street, all other rights-of-way were numbered outward from the center of the city. Streets ran north–south; avenues east–west. That “cartesian” system was both logical and confusing, which resulted in the avenues being renamed for 19th century American “Transcendental” authors (Louisa May Alcott, James Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau).
  • Streets (Numbering) Addresses are numbered from the zero-zero point once celebrated by Founders Fountain (q.v.). Lots are numbered in 100s using a cartesian system, though there are rarely more than 24 lots per block. Moving outward from the city center, odd numbers are always on the right, even on the left.
  • Strip, The — State Highway #7 runs along the north edge of the Original Townsite. Post-WWII development related to the automobile became known as The Strip.
  • Sturm und Drang / Sturm & Drang (Lakes) — Twin lakes Sturm and Drang become one body of water after heavy rainfall. Summer service to the resort colony was provided by a spur line of NITC trains (q.v.) from the summer of 1910 into the late 1930s. Some of the resorts include:
  1. Bagby’s Resort / “The Last Resort” — west shore of Drang and farthest from the NITC stop at the station-store, hence “the last resort”
  2. Half-way House — Technically, on the way to S&D, at the NITC turn-off
  3. Moody’s Resort — On the south shore of Drang
  4. Smith’s Resort / Hotel — on the east shore of Sturm; least “rustic” of the S+D resorts and also having the longest season
  • Syndicate Mills — West of the original town limits at the foot of Henry Street. A cooperative venture of the 1860s, these water-powered mills are the oldest surviving industrial complex in Fennimore County. NR 
  • Tabor Industries — A group of factories in the Industrial Park west of the Muskrat. Founded by the inter-related Tennant and Tabor families, the conglomerate has grown to include light manufacturing and food processing.
  • Temple Emanu-El — Agincourt’s second synagogue was built in 1953 just north of Asbury United Methodist Church. It shares “the ecumenical parking lot” (q.v.) with the Muslims and Methodists.
  • Tennant Memorial Gallery — Located in the east ground floor of the former Agincourt Public Library, the Memorial Gallery was established by the Tennant family. Its collection has grown from the initial GAR Exhibit of 1912 to include over two hundred works of art collected during the intervening one hundred and ten years. (See: Agincourt Public Library and Tennant Memorial Gallery)
  • THE — So many places in Agincourt and Fennimore county begin with “The” that it deserved a note in the blog.
  • Theatres / Auditoria — 
    1. Harney’s Orpheum (q.v.)
    2. The Auditorium (q.v.)
    3. Reinhardt Hall (q.v.)
  • Tri-County Airport — Located half way between Agincourt and Fahnstock on State Highway #7. Previously known as the Fahnstock Aerodrome (q.v.).
  • Twenty Below Coffee Co. — 12 SW Louisa Avenue. How does a small community support such a fine coffeteria?
  • United Commercial Travelers / U.C.T. — See: Lodges (Fraternal and Sororital); Hotels
  • Vakkerdahl Farm and Beautiful Valley Creamery — See: Fennimore County Heritage Center.
  • Van Kannel Sanitary Drug — Theo Van Kannel opened the Sanitary Drug store at 24 North Broad Street (southwest corner of James Street) in 1905. Van Kannels’ uncle Theophilus Van Kannel invented the revolving door, patented in 1888. Just out of curiosity, why would you have to assure customers that your drug store was sanitary? Were there unsanitary drug stores?
  • Vandervort’s Bakery — 114 North Broad Street, Agincourt’s purveyor of baked goods for more than eighty years. See also: Shelf Life
  • Victory Gardens — During WWII the flood plain along the north bank of Crispin Creek between the Broad Street bridge and the Muskrat River was devoted to vegetable gardens for the war effort. The land is still used by the community without fee for recreational gardening.
  • Walden Retreat — Dr Reinhold Kölb (youngest brother of Edith Kölb Wasserman) established a psychiatric practice in 1926 and built a sanitarium the following year at the east end of Thoreau Avenue near Gnostic Grove. Appropriately, he called it Walden Retreat.
  • Wander Society, The This organization has no fixed time or place of meeting; indeed, its membership is in doubt. (See: Keri Smith, The Wander Society)
  • Ward System — For political purposes, Agincourt is currently divided into Wards. Numbers One through Four correspond with the four quadrants of the Original Townsite; numbers Five and Six, to the cities growth, respectively, north and east.
  • Wasserman Hardware — 100 North Broad Street, northwest corner of Broad and James. Designed by Sioux City architects Joachim & Perlmuter, it was remodeled by Anson Tennant in 1912. The building now houses The Periodic Table (restaurant; q.v.) and a B&B on the second floor.
  • West Bank Industrial Park — On the west bank of the Muskrat River, between the County Fairgrounds and the Milwaukee Road right-of-way. This is the location of Fennimore Farms industrial plant (q.v.), among others. Given the Palestinian question, this may have been an unfortunate choice.
  • Wester / Westerling Cemetery — In the far northwestern corner of Fennimore county, Wester Cemetery attests to the presence of a splinter group from the Mormon or LDS church founded by Joseph Smith.
  • Why, The — Fennimore county’s freethinkers met in private homes until serendipity allowed them to build a meeting place on Carousel Alley behind Hradek’s Shoe Repair. They named it “Ingersoll House” to honor America’s foremost 19th century atheist Robert G. Ingersoll, but “The Why” seems to have stuck as an appropriate epithet. NR
  • Women’s Club, The — Southwest corner of James and Second Street NW, the clubhouse was a former single-family home.
  • Yellow Brick Roadhouse — A former municipal maintenance garage on Highway #7 West near the fairgrounds now houses Agincourt’s popular youth music scene.
  • YMCA — A local presence for the Young Men’s Christian Association began as an 1890s adjunct to programs at Asbury Methodist Episcopal church. The YMCA building, constructed on the north edge of the church lot, was built in 1908. It soon became gender neutral, changing its name to CYA, the Christian Youth Association and is now broadly non-sectarian.
  • Zandbroz Variety — A branch of the successful Zandbroz variety stores in Sioux Falls and Fargo operated by Greg and Renée Danz. Located at 24 South Broad Street. Agincourt’s proudly independent bookseller.

NB: Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places are designated thus: NR

1 Comment

  1. […] A gazetteer of places in Agincourt, Fennimore County and the Muskrat Valley […]

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