The Hoover Houses and Community Structures
Historic Structures Report
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HOOVER COTTAGE (continued)


A. The Herbert Hoover Birthplace Society

1. Its Organization

Mrs. Lou Henry Hoover, on June 28, 1938, wrote Harrison Spangler about the possibility of organizing an association to have custody of the Birthplace. She hoped that he would consult with Allan Hoover and "take a hand in its legal organization." She would like to have both trustees and a general membership. The association would be open to anybody, and the Board of Trustees would consist of representatives of the membership, with the majority to be of a permanent character, such as the Presidents of Coe College and the University of Iowa, the Superintendent of the Iowa State Historical Society, and the Mayor of West Branch.

After the association had been organized and had given evidence of permanency, she and Allan would transfer to it the Birthplace property. [1]

Spangler followed up on Mrs. Hoover's suggestion, and contact was established with other interested parties. As a result, an important meeting was held on Wednesday afternoon, March 22, 1939, in the caretakers' bungalow. There were about 30 in attendance. Bruce McKay, who had had charge of the restoration, presided. After McKay had opened the meeting, which had been called to organize the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Society, it was addressed by Benjamin F. Shambaugh, Superintendent of the Iowa State Historical Society, H. J. Thornton of the History Department of the State University of Iowa, and others. Their theme was the importance of historic preservation to the community.

Articles of incorporation for the Birthplace Society, prepared in accordance with Spangler's request, were read, approved, and signed by 30 charter members, most of whom were from West Branch. Included were boyhood friends and schoolmates of Herbert Hoover, the original Hoover Birthplace Committee, and others interested in the restoration and preservation of the Cottage. The next item on the agenda was the election of officers. Fred Albin was chosen president, W. B. Anderson vice president, and F. L. Pearson secretary. [2]

The Society, before adjourning, determined to undertake a campaign to furnish the Cottage "as nearly as possible as it was in the early days," and to landscape the grounds, preparatory to positioning the statue of Isis. [3]

Editor Corbin of the Times, commenting on the organization of the Society, observed that it was "gratifying that the work of restoring the original two-room house with its lean-to, to its first site and appearance could be done while the Hoover family could give it authenticity." Old timers had been heard to declare that the Cottage looked just as they remembered it. [4]

2. Bill Anderson is Elected to the Presidency

There was a called meeting of the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Society in the first week of October 1946, at which Fred Albin submitted his resignation as president. This would be a grievous loss, as Albin had cooperated closely with the Hoovers in the acquisition of the Scellers' property and restoration of the Cottage. No successor was elected at this time.

Almost a year passed before the vacancy was filled. On September 18, 1947, at a meeting held at the First State Bank, William B. Anderson was elected president of the Society. Anderson was a popular choice, as he had long been active in the Society, and had headed the committee that had transformed the once "barren grounds" into a beautiful park. Other officers re-elected at this meeting were A. M. Leech vice president, and L. C. Rummells secretary-treasurer. [5]

When the Society held its annual meeting on August 10, 1950, one of those in attendance was Herbert Hoover, Jr. [6] The Society lost Vice-President Bert Leech by death on June 1, 1951. He was succeeded by John Thompson, who was elected by the Board of Trustees to that office on September 12. [7]

On March 5, 1953, there was a meeting of the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Society for election of officers. Bill Anderson was re-elected president, John Thompson vice-president, and L. C. Rummells secretary-treasurer. As in the past, these officers would constitute a committee charged with day-to-day administration of the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Park. [8]

B. The Organization of the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Foundation

After Hoover's Eightieth Birthday, Bill Anderson called a meeting of the Committee of Fourteen at the Ox Yoke Restaurant in the Amana Colonies. There it was decided to establish a national organization to honor Herbert Hoover. There was a good response, and it was determined to incorporate as the Herbert Hoover Foundation, with a national and international base. A small roadblock was discovered and overcome when it was called to Anderson's attention that another Herbert Hoover Foundation had been chartered in Oregon. The Iowa-based group was accordingly redesignated, "The Herbert Hoover Birthplace Foundation." For the next several years, Bill Anderson headed both the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Society and the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Foundation. In 1957 the two organizations merged. [9]

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Last Updated: 28-Jul-2006