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Fontanelle City

Fontanelle City Hall is located at 313 Washington Street, Fontanelle, IA 50846; phone: 641-745-3961.

Beginnings [1]

When it was first founded over 150 years ago, the town of Fontanelle served as the county seat of Adair County. Elias Stafford and George B. Hitchcock were appointed as representatives to the Iowa General Assembly in April of 1855. Originally known as Summerset, the town's name was later changed to reflect the Native American heritage of the area. Chief Logan Fontanelle, of the Omaha Indian tribe, was the son of noted French trader Lucien Fontanelle and Omaha Indian woman. The land of Southwest Iowa and nearby Nebraska was given up for public domain, and thus attracted settlers.

Only a few decades after its settlement, the town square experienced a fire in 1913 that destroyed the newspaper office and four other places of business. Fontanelle's historic identity was rejuvenated in 1917, when the Red Cross decided to fundraise to raise money for American soldiers in World War II. The last rooster to be auctioned off in the town square, Jack Pershing, has served as a symbol of the town since. Additionally, the central square and park itself have been symbols of the town since its roots, and thus it is fitting that many historical events such as the rooster auction also took place there. A major renovation to the square was completed in 1939 with the construction of a new bandstand nicknamed "the band shell." Although there was initial fear that the removal of Fontanelle as the county seat would contribute to the decline of the town, it quickly died down due to "the live spirit of the citizens, their desire to make the town prosperous and to create a community of interest, civic improvement and financial welfare" (History of Adair County, Volume 1, 1914). Over the years, pride points such as having "the best ever parade held in the county" during the Fourth of July celebrations continued to build the self-esteem of the community (Fontanelle Observer, July 7, 1955). Downtown underwent phases of change, with service oriented businesses such as cafes, dry cleaners, clothing stores, car wash, department stores, bakeries, youth centers, electric shops, blacksmiths and galleries. In the 1950s, growth started away from the square in areas known as "business corridors"—these included large scale manufacturing and milling.

  1. Adair County Comprehensive Plan, City of Fontanelle, 2012, www.adaircountyiowa.org, accessed October, 2015.
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