Pick up your Art Treasure Hunt map at the Creation Station at Carver Park, Stout Headquarters at the Iowa Theater, Winterset Art Center, and Madison County Historical Complex.
Or click here to print; landscape mode suggested.

Match a location on the Art Treasure Map to stories below
about these treasures!

George Stout Sites

Stout Headquarters/The Iowa Theater, 119 N. John Wayne Drive
Before it became a movie theater, the Iowa Theater was a venue for live vaudeville entertainment. The space transitioned to “moving pictures” in addition to live performances in 1914. The theater’s iconic marquee was added in 1938. A 2015-2017 complete renovation, at a cost of over a million dollars, restored “The Iowa” to its Art Deco grandeur.

George Stout Boyhood Home, 709 E. Jefferson Street
An historic marker sponsored by Disabled American Veterans, Des Moines Chapter 20 commemorates the home where George Stout, leader of the Monuments Men, grew up here before graduating from Winterset High School in 1915.

George Stout Storybook , 1st Ave. and W. Washington Street
The Covered Bridge Scenic Byways Committee commissioned artist Michael Goodall to design and create this public art piece on the corner of the old Winterset High School. The bronze floor medallion and signs were designed and installed by John Gambrall.

Stout Art Exhibit, Madison County Historical Museum, 815 S. 2nd Avenue
Located on 25 picturesque acres on the south edge of Winterset, the Madison County Historical Complex includes 14 buildings, including many built in the 1800s. The museum building offers many displays that record the people and events of Madison County’s history. Featured this year is a display dedicated to local artists. There you can see George Stout’s drawings for the 1915 Winterset High School yearbook, where he used his artistic skills on several pages.

Art Activities / Exhibits

Creation Station, Carver Park, 124 E. Court Ave. (west of fire station)
This creative space for children has been sponsored by the Dream Big Dreams Committee since 2018 at the entrance to the Carver Park during Covered Bridge Festival. Dream Big Dreams volunteers host kids’ art activities, storytelling, and explorer challenges.

Winterset Art Center, 224 S. John Wayne Drive
Established in 1958, this historic home and barn were converted into a gallery, gift shop, classrooms, and a pottery workshop. Unique artwork is exhibited and some is for sale by local and regional artists. During the Festival, there is a James Graham exhibition/sale and a Winterset’s Children’s Art Exhibit.

Iowa Quilt Museum, 68 E. Court Avenue
Opened in 2016, this museum promotes an appreciation of the American quilt and the art of quilting through displays of quilts and information about quilt history. The museum offers changing exhibits—three to four per year—of American quilts both vintage and new.

Covered Bridge Quilters Quilt Show, S. 2nd Avenue and South Street, at Elementary School Gym
This Madison County tradition, by our own Covered Bridge Quilters group, has been around for four decades! Enjoy beautiful quilts, a fabric and pattern sale, and a fiber art boutique.

Public Art / Monuments

Photo Op Mural, Alley east of the Courthouse
This unique “interactive” series of murals was created by artists James Navarro and Katie Jensen in 2020. Many visitors take photos in front of the “Winterset Postcard,” American flag, an apple tree, angels wings, and more!

Dream Big Dreams Mural, Carver Park, 124 E. Court Ave. (on west wall of fire station)
This mural honoring the story of George Washington Carver was created with hand made ceramic tiles made by hundreds of Madison County children. It was installed in 2014 in the Carver Park on the wall of the fire station to commemorate Carver’s love of art, nature, knowledge, and service to humanity.

Freedom Rock, 2nd St. and E. Washington St.
This is the 64th Freedom Rock in Iowa completed by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen, whose goal is to provide one in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.  Ours includes a female soldier wearing a Quilt of Valor, a national organization with Winterset headquarters; George Stout, leader of the WWII Monuments Men, and Glenn Martin, who designed WWII military aircraft; Madison County Prisoners of War (POW) Carl Hircock, Larry Spencer, Eddie Benge, and Don Thomas; and John Wayne from movie roles where he portrayed soldiers.

George Stout Storybook , S. 1st Ave. and W. Washington St.
The Covered Bridge Scenic Byways Committee commissioned artist Michael Goodall to design and create this public art piece on the corner of the old Winterset High School. The bronze floor medallion and signs were designed and installed by John Gambrall.

Susan B. Anthony Marker, Alley west of Courthouse
Designed by local artist Carol Bassett, this commemorative sign was installed in 2020, the one hundredth anniversary of women’s right to vote in America. It describes the lecture Susan B. Anthony gave in the Madison County Courthouse in 1875 about women’s rights.

Courthouse Bell Monument, Northeast corner of Courtyard
This bell was removed in 2011 from the 1876 Courthouse dome due to its extreme weight, estimated at over 2000 pounds.  A community-wide project, led by Madison County Leadership Institute students, raised funds from those listed on the bricks surrounding the bell tower to place it here in 2015.  Local stonemasons designed and created the limestone tower.

Civil War Monument, Monumental Park, 2nd St. and E. Court Ave.
To honor the more than 700 Madison County men who responded to the Union army call in the Civil War, citizens back home wanted to remember their sacrifice with a park and a monument.  Raising money through community festivals, lectures and public plays, the base was built and dedicated in October, 1867.  The 14-foot marble monument was put in place that December, making it one of the oldest Civil War monuments west of the Mississippi River.  

Book Nooks, Winterset Public Library, 2nd St. and E. Court Ave. (adjacent to Public Library)
These two reading spaces were commissioned and funded by the Friends of the Winterset Library from a winning design by Iowa State University students.  They resemble an open book and extend the Library’s inside public space to exterior space for solitude or as a gathering place.  On the back of each of the four relaxing seats is text that honors four points of Madison County history: Civil War and Monumental Park, Underground Railroad, George Washington Carver, and Pioneers and Native Americans. (Some restoration is currently underway.) 

Courthouse Historic District

As you enjoy the many art galleries, art studios, and artisan-owned shops around the square, read the plaques on the front of most buildings. Be sure to look up! Notice the architectural details above the windows all around the Courthouse Historic District.

We have gathered some “art stories” connected to  businesses around the square from the past century… from a Broadway songwriter to a nationally known quilt magazine and TV show to movie stars to a beloved candy kitchen, Winterset has always been home to many “creatives.” 

Madison County Courthouse
Our picturesque Courthouse was built in 1876 and is undergoing major restoration with roof repair, window replacement, and a new ADA-compliant entrance on the south side. It was originally designed by French-born architect Alfred Piquenard, who designed both the Iowa and Illinois State capitols.  The building maintains many of its original features: limestone steps and façade, marble floors, and massive wood work, including stairs.  Today, it continues to house the Madison County court system, the County Auditor and Supervisor offices, and tribute walls to Madison County men and women who served in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Viet Nam War, and Desert Storm.

North Side “Art Stories”

Northside Cafe, 59 E. Jefferson Street
This building was constructed by Eli Cox, who also built several of Madison County’s covered bridges. When it was built in 1875, the upper story held offices facing the Courthouse, but the back portion was an opera house, 34 feet by 43 feet with two large skylights and seating up to 275 people. The ceilings for both floors are 13 feet high. The lower level has held a restaurant since 1919.

1st Avenue Collective, 67 E. Jefferson Street
This store is full of items made by current artists with many different talents. Everything in the store is hand-crafted. Items include jewelry, pottery, wood works, art, candles, and much more. The owners aim to promote arts and creativity in central Iowa by offering merchandise that is beautiful, unique, and functional. Plus they teach make-your-own jewelry classes.

West Side “Art Stories”

Montross Pharmacy, 120 N 1st Avenue
Over 100 years ago, before the Montross family owned this building, Clyde Herring was a pharmacist here. His son, John Herring, graduated from Winterset High School in 1920, moved to New York, changed his name to John Rox, and wrote Broadway music. In the 1930’s his song “Big Wide Wonderful World” became popular. In the 1950’s, he wrote “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” which has been recorded by four generations of singing stars from Dean Martin to the Jonas Brothers! Another fun note: John Rox was married to actress Alice Pearce who played Gladys Kravitz on “Bewitched”!

The Drift Taproom and Heartland Fiber, 112 N 1st Avenue
This building was built in 1874 to sell woolen material made in a local factory. There was a tailor upstairs who would sew the material into coats or men’s suits. Now the second story houses the Heartland Fiber yarn shop and the national headquarters of the Quilts of Valor. The Drift is a taproom serving Iowa craft beers, Madison County wine, and specialty cocktails featuring Iowa distilleries.

Look up to see stained glass art designed by master watchmaker and jeweler Gene Trask. Can you also spot three metal sculptures of a woman’s face on the corners of the building? Trask was inspired by movie star and singer Frances Langford who visited his hospital after he was injured in World War II.  During the early days of the Covered Bridge Festival in the 1970’s, the Winterset Art Center used the adjacent alley for art exhibitions. Local artists including James Graham often set up their easels here to draw and paint.
www.thedriftia.com www.heartlandfiber.net www.qovf.org

South Side “Art Stories”

Piece Works Quilt Shop, 54 E. Court Avenue
For nearly 100 years, this building held a hardware store, but from 2002 through 2006, Marianne Fons and Liz Porter operated their business here. The upstairs housed the editorial offices for Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine, the most widely-circulated quilting magazine at the time, with 300,000 subscribers. Planning meetings for Fons & Porter’s nationwide public television show of the same name also took place there, and sewing specialists created the step-outs used for TV episodes. The first floor held their quilt shop. Now, Piece Work Quilts operates the retail store and holds classes for quilting artists across the street to the west.

Village Bootery, 66 E. Court Avenue
This was once the Smith Drug Store. One of its pharmacists, Clyde Morrison, had a son named Marion Morrison who became a famous movie star. The son, born in Winterset in 1907, is better known by his movie name – John Wayne. This location was one of several movie theaters in the early 1900s.

East Side “Art Stories”

The Iowa Theater, 119 N. John Wayne Drive
This showplace has been a host to all sorts of theater arts, from live theater, variety acts, to movies. Built in 1899 as a one story movie theater, the second story was added in 1928 with a larger screen full stage, and extensive balcony. The theater reopened in 2017 after extensive restoration and hosts movies and live entertainment.

Salon 107, 107 N. John Wayne Drive
Built in 1884 for a “first class” restaurant, this building has housed many kinds of business over the years. The most well-remembered business was a Candy Kitchen where candy and ice cream of all kinds were artfully made. First it was Harvey’s Candy Kitchen (1932 – 1941) then Holliday’s Candy Kitchen (1942 – 1968). Many kids enjoyed coming to Holliday’s Candy Kitchen after a matinee at the movie theater for sliced ice cream, homemade root beer, carmel corn, and fudge artfully made on a marble slab. At this time, it creates art every day as a hair salon.