Monday, November 29, 2010

A Photo Op at the Bandshell

I have a thing for historic bandshells and bandstands.  It’s a condition that developed after I began researching the career of my great-grandfather, G. Oliver Riggs.  I began to notice how many communities still use them, and how widely the architectural styles vary.  Now, whenever I see one – whether it’s vintage or modern – I'm curious about why it was built and how it’s used.

That’s why a Thanksgiving weekend visit to Iowa Falls, Iowa, had to include a stop at Estes Park.  The bandshell there, formerly known as the Estes Park Band Shell, was dedicated in 1931 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Designed by L.L Klippel, it cost $3,838 and replaced a pagoda built in 1898.  The bandshell is still used today for community events.
The bandshell in Iowa Falls is an example of Spanish Colonial Revival design.
Elias, Seb and Louisa “jam” on the bandshell stage.
The bandshell was renamed the Bill Riley Bandshell after Iowa Falls native son Bill Riley, also known as “Mr. State Fair.”  Riley ran the Iowa State Fair talent search for many years, retiring in 1996.  He died in 2006.  A statue of him, with microphone in hand, was installed near the bandshell.
Bill Riley, 1920-2006
I know that there are many other cool bandshells and bandstands out there, like the one in Ames that has a connection to my great-grandfather’s friend George Landers (Landers directed a massed band at the bandshell’s 1935 dedication).  You can view pictures of other vintage bandstands from around the world, including one from the Iowa State Fair, and one from the St. Olaf College campus, at this website.

Do you have a favorite local bandstand or bandshell?  If so, I'd love to hear about it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you found a picture of the Finseth Bandshell. Now I can finish my own bandshell post, featuring one modern (Red Wing) and one vintage (Winona). Thanks!