An Investment for the Future: Letts Hometown Pride to Build Gazebo on Site of Letts Bank

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

Each year, the Letts Hometown Pride (LHP) group does their best to take care of the city they love. “We try to get grants to do little projects,” said Karen Koppe, an active member of LHP. Though Koppe’s description of the group’s work sounds modest, LHP has done several significant projects around Letts in the last several years. From adding a frisbee golf course and a mommy and me swing at the park, to adding new signs welcoming people to town, to installing a walking trail with solar lights, LHP has had a hand in some of the biggest improvements that have taken place in Letts. After working for years to get the Letts Bank torn down, the group has succeeded and now has plans to create a community gazebo.

The Lett’s Bank shortly before it was torn down last winter.

Built in 1893, the Letts Bank changed hands several times before falling into the hands of a Dr. Brown. A notorious landowner in Louisa County, Brown bought several buildings throughout the area and allowed them to fall to pieces. After his death, area governments struggled to contact his heirs, and to redevelop the lands they sat on, as Brown owed tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes. In Letts, despite the concerted effort of LHP, it took the city thirteen years to finally get permission to redevelop the land. However, once the city finally demolished the building last winter, LHP could finally reach their goal of developing it into a beautiful, vibrant community space.

The plot left by the Lett’s Bank that Letts Hometown Pride will build their gazebo on.

With the site of the Letts Bank finally available, LHP has set their sights on building a gazebo on that spot. “We just wanted to put together a green space and have some place to put a band,” explained Koppe.

To that end, the group has begun outlining what they want the gazebo to look like. To create a space in harmony with the farms surrounding Letts, LHP will order a gazebo kit that incorporates the wood and roof of a corn bin. To commemorate the bank that once stood on the lot, LHP saved wood from the staircase of the Letts Bank, as well as an ornate cornice beam and the door of one of the vaults, with the plan to incorporate into benches and decorative elements in the park around the gazebo. LHP also hopes to include a veterans’ memorial into the layout of the new greenspace and gazebo as well.

With donations from Letts Party in the Park and other sources, LHP looks forward to raising the $7,500 they project they will need to pour the concrete slab for the gazebo as well as order the kit to put it together. So long as people donate in a timely fashion, Koppe predicts much of the work to put the gazebo together will take place this fall.
As LHP’s gazebo project gets underway, Koppe and others in Letts feel very excited for it’s potential. As she put it, Koppe relishes the chance to, “[take] an old building, an eyesore, and maybe [turn] that corner into something nice.”

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