From The Dean – Spring 2015

Can you guess what the largest piece of public artwork is on Iowa State’s campus? It’s the Farm House Museum. The museum recently completed a significant restoration and the result is simply beautiful. It was fitting that University Museums kicked off its yearlong celebration of 40 years on campus with a reception at the Farm House Museum in January.

Built in 1860, the Farm House was the first structure of the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. The first campus farm managers and deans lived here. Adonijah Welch, Iowa State’s first president, and his family lived there. It’s not a stretch to say that advances in agriculture rippled from the Farm House to the rest of the world. Within its walls, Tama Jim Wilson, Seaman Knapp and Charles Curtiss especially influenced agricultural practices and policies. Portions of the Hatch Act, which created the nation’s agriculture experiment station system, were drafted there. Early planning meetings for 4-H were held in its library.

Four of Iowa State’s 10 deans of agriculture called the Farm House “home”: Seaman Knapp, Tama Jim Wilson, Charles Curtiss and Floyd Andre. Dean Curtiss lived there 50 years — so long that many knew it as “the Curtiss House.” The Farm House reminds us of Iowa State’s place in the history of agricultural progress, and also that the beauty of our campus grew from agricultural roots. To see the Farm House so well preserved today is to see Iowa State’s legacy in agriculture and the arts. Your next visit to campus should include a stop at this National Historic Landmark and largest of Iowa State’s many public
works of art.

You also should come and see a stunningly beautiful new painting in Curtiss Hall that depicts George Washington Carver mentoring a young Henry A. Wallace. In this issue of STORIES we’ve included a poster-size copy of the painting. The painting by Rose Frantzen was made possible by a generous gift from our alum Jim Borel (’78 agricultural business) and his wife Marcia. George Washington Carver, a lover of both science and art, was a familiar face in the Farm House when Tama Jim Wilson lived there. It was Wilson who encouraged Charles Curtiss to hire Carver as Iowa State’s first African-American faculty member. The rest is history.

Wendy Wintersteen

Endowed Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences