A Des Moines-based organization that strives to get people involved in their communities is marking its 20th anniversary. The Wallace House Foundation is based in the 1882 house that had been the home to Henry Wallace, a revered name in Iowa history. Foundation spokeswoman Ann Taylor says restoration work began on the home two decades ago.
"The house was in terrible shape and was starting to fall apart and actually it was scheduled to be demolished," Taylor says. "Some of the neighborhood leaders got together and said, ‘We know who lived here and how important the family was to Iowa, what kind of role they played in the national scene and we need to save this house.’"
The Foundation grew from that decision and once the home was renovated to museum standards, they had to come up with something to do with it. Taylor says one of the Wallace family legacies was community involvement and civic engagement, so that’s how the house is now used and the cause to which the foundation is devoted.
"People come and we do community dialogue projects," she says. "We gather people together around some kind of issue and help them figure out what kind of vision they want and how to get there and how to put that into action." Issues tackled range from immigration and education to housing and employment.
Taylor says "Uncle" Henry Wallace was a minister, a gentleman farmer and a writer who founded the publication "Wallace’s Farmer" and ran it with two of his sons. One of his sons, Henry C. Wallace, went on to become a U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under two presidents, Harding and Coolidge, while his son, Henry A. Wallace, became U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and eventually Vice President of the U.S. under Franklin D-Roosevelt. That Wallace also founded Pioneer Hi-Bred, what’s now an international company and the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics. For more information visit the Wallace House Foundation website .