The West Des Moines Historical Society hosted over 3,200 visitors at the Historic Jordan House and Bennett School! The 2013 season also saw an increase in the number of events held by the Society, as well as an increase in the number of open house hours at the Historic Jordan House.
Over 1,250 school children from all over the metro area visited the Jordan House and were able to learn about the Underground Railroad along with all the important accomplishments James C. Jordan had during his lifetime. A number of student groups also did projects on James Jordan for various classes and clubs. The Valley High School Hyperstream Club created a video of the Jordan House that can now be viewed on our website. Additionally, students from Central Academy created projects focused on James Jordan for History Day. This year’s History Day theme was “Right and Responsibilities,” and they felt that James fit that description and should be the highlight of their projects.
The Bennett School played host to the Jordan Creek Elementary School Spelling Bee in November, which brought over 700 students and 50 adults. The Jordan House hosted various children’s groups including Minorities on the Move, Boy Scouts, exchange students from around the world and area homeschooled groups. We are excited about all the different groups we had the opportunity to reach this past year and to teach about an important period in Iowa history.
In addition to the large number of student visitors, there were 1,943 visitors from the general public. We host visitors not only from around the Midwest but from around the world! Last year, among other countries, we had visitors from Germany and China. The story of the Underground Railroad to freedom is a powerful one. Visitors come to see the rifle abolitionist John Brown gave to Mr. Jordan on his last journey through Iowa, leading slaves on their way to freedom. Six months later, Brown would be hung subsequently to his famous raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry and capture by Col. Robert E. Lee – a flash point in the lead up to the Civil War.
To tour the Jordan House, you may visit during our open hours on the first Sunday of each month at 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm, or every Friday at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm – just show up a few minutes before the scheduled time! You may also schedule private tours at the Jordan House or Bennett School.