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Small Dutch American town raises $3 million for Windmill project

Pella proceeds with ambitious plan

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

PELLA / ORANGE CITY, Iowa - The oldest Dutch America community in Iowa soon will boast another prime symbol of Dutch identity and industry, now that Pella’s Windmill project has taken all the hurdles that stood in the way of realizing its ambitious plan. Several sizable gifts including one by a local foundation, topped the fundraising targets of US$3 million of the organizing Windmill committee. Organizers quickly had the foundation poured for the towering structure. Work on its adjoining auxiliary, the Interpretive Center, also is proceeding. In distant Orange City, a translation from Oranjestad, work has begun to convert a local windmill from a bank branch into an office and tourism information centre.

The modules for the new Pella windmill are being built in the Netherlands in the Verbij workshops and will be shipped to Pella in the Spring. The Interpretive Center where Dutch culture and traditions will be showcased, in various aspects has been modelled after actual buildings in the Netherlands although it will be built on site. In the space between the brick streets and the sidewalk, ‘Old World’ cobblestones will be placed, adding to the uniqueness of the complex. The extra costs for this will be shared between the Pella Historical Society which also operates other sites, and the City of Pella.

Pella already has windmills of various sizes but none are working windmills or all that authentic. The new addition with is a full-fledged structure, will tower over the town and in the prairie setting can be spotted from a distance. Other construction in Pella includes the Molengracht project which is a private commercial/residential complex complete with a block-long canal near the site of the windmill.

The Orange City windmill wich until recently served as a bank branch also is highly visable in its location near the highway entrance into town. With the increasing acceptance of electronic banking, dropping customer traffic prompted the bank to close its highway branch.

In May 2000, the Illinois community of Fulton, located on the banks of the Mississippi (it forms the border with Iowa), also dedicated a working windmill.