The operators of Living History Farms in Urbandale celebrated the completion of the renovation of an historic Iowa home this weekend. Living History spokesperson, Jennie Deerr, says they had catch up on several maintenance issues the Flynn Mansion.
“By adding a roof, a gutter, doing some foundation and we most recently added back kitchen on the back of the property that was actually removed when the state had used the Flynn Mansion for a time as part of an honor farm,” Deerr explains. The home is the centerpiece of the operation that tells the history of 300 years of farming in Iowa.
“The Flynn Mansion was built by Martin and Mary Ellen Flynn in 1870. And the Flynns had actually made their money on the railroad, they were railroad contractors,” Deerr explains. “The Flynn Mansion, where it stands today, was actually the Flynn’s country home. It’s just an absolutely beautiful piece of architecture and history in the Des Moines area. And really it tells the story of an immigrant family (who) came over from Ireland, and its’ really a true rags-to-riches story.”
Fixing up the Flynn is a little more complicated than the average DIY projects. Deerr says the mansion is on the National Register of Historic places, so while they can use modern materials, they have to check with several experts to ensure the materials are historically accurate.
Deerr says they are adding some programs this year to go along with the history of the mansion. “This year we’re introducing from the Union Pacific Foundation a program called ‘Railroad Crossings,’ where we’ll actually do hands-on activities and fun interactive activities around the railroad, because obviously the railroad contracting was very important to the Flynn family,” Deerr says.
Deerr says visitor surveys show the Flynn Mansion is one of the most liked areas of Living History Farms. Living History Farms is open from May through August from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and noon until 5 p.m. Sundays. Find out more at: www.lhf.org.