Explore the Reaches of

Jefferson County Heritage

“No Legacy Is So Rich as History”

Explore these 6 historic sites within minutes of each other!

Jefferson County Heritage aims to inspire future generations that take direction from the lessons of our past & the wisdom of our elders.

The Carnegie Museum (Fairfield’s former library building), was the first of 1,689 Carnegie libraries endowed by Andrew Carnegie. This Iowa Century Museum’s collection dates back to 1876 making it one of Iowa’s five oldest museums.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Parsons College was a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1875 by General Lewis Baldwin Parsons. The college remained as a small school until the mid-1950’s when a new direction by the board of directors was found. They hired Dr. Millard G. Roberts from upstate New York to guide the college’s future growth. When Dr. Roberts arrived total enrollment was 500 students.  In the fall of 1966 total enrollment exceeded 5,500 students.

The historic Maasdam Barns at the Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm are a significant illustration of an early 20th-century draft-horse breeding business.  From 1910 until 1938 the owner of this farm, J. G. Maasdam, was a prominent importer and breeder of award-winning Belgian, Percheron and other draft horses.

Rhodham Bonnifield and his sons built the Bonnifield Log Cabin in the summer of 1838, making it the oldest existing two-story log house in Iowa.  It replaced a makeshift cabin of unpeeled logs built the previous year when the family first settled in what was to become Jefferson County. Once completed, the Log House entertained many visitors serving as an unofficial Methodist church. Many official guests, such as territorial politicians, governors, delegates to Congress, and judges stayed the night in the hospitable Bonnifield home as they were traveling through the Iowa territory.

Elm Grove School, Center District # 4, is one of 400 one-room country schools left in Iowa.  It was originally located on Hemlock Avenue, approximately 5 miles northwest of Fairfield.  The building was closed in 1960 as part of the reorganization of Fairfield Community School District.  It was moved shortly after to the Greater Jefferson County Fairgrounds by a group of citizens who wanted to preserve the school for the future generations to have a better understanding of education in the county as well as the state.

The McElhinney House is one of the oldest buildings in Fairfield. On January 15, 1846 Robert McElhinney purchased lots for $30 from the city on which he planned to build his family home. The house was designed and constructed by a carpenter, John Lind, with the help of his three sons.

They used native lumber cut from the Skunk River bank and hauled to town in horse-drawn wagons, where it was carefully hand-hewn. Construction began in 1846 and was completed in 1851.

McElhinney House in Spring