The Record building in Conrad, Iowa, seen before its renovation in winter 2013
Though I now live in Washington, D.C., my home will always be Conrad, Iowa -- population 1,108 and Black Dirt Capital of the World. Conrad was actually how I first heard about the National Main Street Center, which is now a subsidiary of the National Trust. My town boasted one of Main Street Iowa’s original Rural Main Streets (populations less than 5,000) and I have fond memories of when my mom had a business in Conrad and was involved with Main Street.
Each time I go home, I notice small differences, but when I was home during Christmas this past year, major changes were underway. As Darla Ubben, the Conrad Chamber-Main Street Program Director, explains in this more in-depth Preservation Leadership Forum blog post, Conrad received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to carry out a facade improvement program on 22 storefronts and four rear facades.
I snapped some photos last winter while work was underway, and convinced my younger brother Clark to get some as well in early May when the work was nearly complete. I hope you enjoy seeing some of these great preservation-in-progress photos!
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Grant is the Manager of Community Outreach at the National Trust. He's proud to be from a Main Street Community and the Black Dirt Capitol of the World – Conrad, Iowa! Growing up on a farm, he always loved going to town and looking at the historic buildings. Now a resident of DC, Grant enjoys reading, running, and anything rural.