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Museum House History

Photo Tour of Museum



Gloria Hasenwinkle       Bill Arnold       Gladys Wessels       Theresa Crotty       Betty Davis


LaVern Velau



Novella Dorothy Bredbenner, only child of Clark and Martha Lau Bredbenner willed the house, contents and a monetary donation for maintenance to the city of Klemme to be used as the KLEMME HOMESTEAD MUSEUM.  The city owns the property and is operated under the direction of a museum commission consisting of five individuals residing in the town of Klemme, appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. 

The original commission members were Bill Hasenwinkle, Arlys Arnold, Terry Folkerts, Karen Priebe and Gladys Wessels.  Since the establishment of the commission, resignations have been accepted from Arlys Arnold due to relocation, Bill Hasenwinkle and Beth Roths because of medical reasons, and Karen Priebe.  Bill Arnold, Gloria Hasenwinkle and Theresa Crotty have been appointed to fill the vacant positions.  The five member commission have appointed LaVern Velau to be the museum historian.

To supplement the operation expenses, the museum commission has applied for and received grants from COMMUNICATIONS  1  NETWORK for the purchase of a vacuum cleaner, COMMUNICATIONS  1  NETWORK and IOWA NETWORK SERVICES (now Aureon) for the purchase of a security system and the HANCOCK COUNTY FOUNDATION for a computer.  Donations have also been received from KHS alumni classes for the construction of display cases for  KHS trophies, also from past and present Klemme area residents for the purchase of display cabinets and shelving, cleaning supplies and storage units.

Since receiving the house, there have been many many volunteer hours of sorting through boxes, shelves, closets and stacks of items; determining what is to be saved and what is to be sold or disposed of, washing and cleaning the various items to be displayed, combining the same type of items at one location which were found throughout the house, determining the historical value and significance of items, general cleaning of the rooms and work areas and setting up new display shelves and areas.

There are still many items in boxes which have to be sorted.  Upstairs in the attic storage area, a bedroom and the closets, only a few items have been sorted or removed as to have access to move around.  The same situation exists in the basement with many shelves of items to be sorted.

A big THANK YOU to the many volunteers who have assisted and those who helped with the financial donations to make the KLEMME HOMESTEAD MUSEUM to become a reality.  There is still much work to be completed in the future, and with the help of the many present and former Klemme area residents, the museum will be bigger and better and available for present future generations to enjoy.



On Oct 4, 1889 twelve acres of the Harmon J. Klemme farm was surveyed for the site of the new town of Klemme.  The survey report was filed Oct 18, 1889.  On Mar 13, 1890, Thomas Fotheringham from Garner moved the Harmon J. Klemme farm house from the east end of the 160 acre farm toward the center of the town plat of Klemme.  There were some business buildings on Main Street, but this was the first house to be located in the new town of Klemme. 

Some of the occupants of the Klemme house after it was moved onto the town site were: Alex Kirkwood, Lew Lewis, Oscar Carlson, Charles Yahnke, Harry Bonwell and Clark Bredbenner.

When the house was built in 1878 it had three lower rooms, a living room, kitchen and bedroom.  The upstairs was a large open room with the stairway leading into it.  About 1906 the partition between the bedroom and kitchen was taken out, making it one room, making only two rooms on the lower floor.

After Clark Bredbenner and Martha Lau were married in 1916 and had moved into the house, they tore off a coal shed attached to the house on the west side and built a small kitchen.  In 1917 they put in a partition upstairs to make two bedrooms out of the large open room.  In 1923 they dug out for more space in the cellar and cemented the floor, they also cemented half way up the side walls and installed two cellar windows on the north side.

In 1934 a defective chimney caused a fire which burned out part of the center portion between the upstairs floor and down stairs ceiling.  After the fire, new windows were installed, the bay window on the east side was replaced with a plate window.  New floors downstairs, new stair steps and the two door entrances that  were still there from the time of the kitchen and bedroom were replaced with a double door between the two downstairs rooms.

When the sewer was installed in 1939, a small upstairs bedroom was converted into a bathroom.

In the summer of 1947 the house was raised and a new foundation and full basement was added.  The kitchen on the west end of the house was removed, the dining room was remodeled to serve as a combination dining room and kitchen with a dividing work counter and new sink and cupboards were also installed.  A back porch was also built with an indoor basement stairway. 

In 1961 a 'hobby room' was added to the south.  In 1982 the back entrance and porch area were removed, a bedroom with book shelves, a downstairs bathroom, a hallway and laundry area were constructed.  The old chimney was torn down and a new furnace installed.  A basement was built under the new addition with a new stairway and access into the old basement.  New siding was put on the house, insulation material was added into the walls, and several upstairs windows were changed because of the new roof shape.  Also the plate window in the living room was replaced with a bay window similar to the original house.


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page updated 11Apr 2015
2010 LaVern Dean Velau
Klemme Iowa  1889-1989 1989