After visiting the Kalona Quilt & Textile Museum, we stepped next door to see the Kalona Historical Village & Mennonite Museum.
We discovered that this village is an excellent example of the Community Spirit that exists in Kalona. In 1969, the Alpha Club [a Federated Women's Club] had a project to "Save the Old Depot". That led to the formation of the Kalona Historical Society. They acquired a site, moved the depot, and restored it. They used a 2-block-long area along Iowa 22. Then the Wahl Museum was erected where valuable antique collections and displays about Kalona during the last 100 years is stored and displayed.
The village itself has 13 restored period buildings, furnishings, agricultural equipment, and railroad memorabilia. For us, the most interesting were a 1890's one-room country store, a one-room schoolhouse ["Straw College" straw bales were placed outside to keep in the heat in winter], an 1850's post office, the 110 year-old depot, an 1842 Snyder log house, a beautiful Victorian Wahl House, and a working windmill.
The Wahl Museum highlights businesses, crafts, tools, and artistry of Kalona. [Early telephone switch board, newspaper office, art glass, photos of graduation classes 1919-1960]
The Mennonite Museum and Archives is also here where there are articles and items which help preserve the history and the lifestyles of the Mennonite and Amish cultures.
Admission and Hours which includes Historical Village, Mennonite Museum & Archives, Wahl Museum, Quilt and Textile Museum, and the Reif Gem & Mineral Museum:
April-October 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
November-March 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Youth (7-12 $2.50
6 & under Free
Both Jill and I love cheese; thus, we decided to visit the Kalona Cheese Factory which is located a few miles north of Kalona on Highway 1.
Although there is free parking in their on-site parking lot, let it be known that it is rather small and somewhat difficult at times because of trucks, buses, and eager visitors.
This is a excellent place to sample great natural cheeses. They are famous for their warm curds [the locals call it "squeaky cheese"].
Just as you walk in the door, on the right is a window where you are able to watch huge vats of milk transformed into cheese curds. I think that children would just love this.
The curds can be eaten warm [just after it is made] or you are also able to purchase it from the cooler. I think that you should sample the warm and the cold because there is a definite difference in the taste and the texture.
(Jill and I sampled about five different kinds of cheese while we were there.) Some of their flavors are quite unique, and it is a delight to know that they are made right here in their factory. They also sell greeting cards, stationery, breads, crackers, preserves, and sausage.
The Cheese Factory is really Twin County Dairy that is owned by Mr. John Roetlin.
We found the staff quite friendly and helpful. If you wish, you are able to take a tour of the factory with an appointment.
Jill & I co-wrote this tip. We could not take photos so I'm just including a Kalona Quilt from another shop that I photographed.
Kalona Quilt & Textile Museum is one of the many reasons that we visited Kalona, Iowa. We found the Museum after a little searching (I know it’s hard to believe we were turned around in such a small town). Happily we found it just off a busy highway.
This museum is within the Visitors Center and has the largest public display of old spool cabinets in North American. I was delighted that we were able to see these beautiful cabinets and marveled at their great condition.
The museum displays just seven quilts at a time, giving a full history and description of each quilt. These antique quilts were as glorious in color and hand quilting patterns as we expected.By displaying few quilts, the museum invited visitors to compare similar patterns and techniques.
Even though they only display a few quilts at a time, the museum actually houses nearly 200 different quilts in its collection. Marilyn Woodin, a quilt collector began this collection, and she is now curator the this museum. She started with 32 quilts, but benefactors have donated quilts to bring the collection up to the 200.
The display we saw also included an accompanying display of wooden sewing-related items such as cabinets for dyes and sales displays for thread. Inclusion of these added a historic dimension to the quilts displayed.
The museum quilts are kept in a humidity controlled and light controlled room. We could not take photographs of the quilts or the cabinets.
Kalona is known as "The Quilt Capital of Iowa". Annually on the last weekend in April, the Kalona Quilt Show & Sale brings collectors here from all over the United States.
In the same building is the Reif Rock and Mineral Museum. The lobby area has a photographic exhibit of the area's Amish heritage with other historic collections which rotate periodically. There is also a gift shop here.
I want to encourage people to stop by the Kalona Chamber of Commerse because it is such a great place to learn about the darling town. The women [pictured] went out of their way to help Jill and I.
I had been on their website, and I enjoyed all the information and positive spirit that they exhibited. I especially liked and agreed that "Kalona is a town with an atmosphere that is wonderfully authentic"
They have pamphlets; gave us a coupon book [see photo]; they pointed out places to eat, places to shop, museums, and The Cheese Factory. In addition, they gave us some tips on what to do and where to go.
They answered all of our many questions with a smile and an informative answer. What a grand way to be introduced to the town of Kalona, Iowa.
On Hwy 1 north of Kolana is the Twin County Dairy known locally as the Cheese Factory. Open year round except Sundays, you can get fresh cheese curds on most days . Watch white cheddar being made. Many other kinds of cheese for sale.Samples available.
If it hadn't been so hot we would have done much more of this.
Although the buildings are not especially old, they are still interesting...as is looking into the various shop windows.
The 'quilt pattern trail' laid in the pavements (sidewalks) would be good to follow (get the info from the Visitor Centre, which was closed when we arrived)...
You could visit the Quilt and Textiles Museum:
or the Historical Museum and Mennonite Museum next door:
We did neither, but we will certainly visit both if we return.
Visitor Centre open 0930-1600 Mon>Friday, 0930-1500 Saturday.