Harlan-Lincoln House director ready to bring ?jolly good cheer? back to museum

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


In 1909, the Iowa Wesleyan University school newspaper printed a story about a party held at the Harlan-Lincoln House for incoming students. ?Undoubtly the walls of the Harlan House have never resounded with more jolly good cheer and genuine mirth than at this time,? the story read. Anna Villareal, director of the Harlan-Lincoln House hopes to challenge that.

Villareal read the quote to those attending the ribbon cutting and open house on Friday, Feb. 23, which celebrated the grand reopening of the Harlan-Lincoln House.

?I say no offense to campus life in 1909, but I hope to challenge that. I hope to challenge that every single day with our tours and our educational programing and our events,? she told the crowd. ?Thanks for being our first kind of pillar in the joy and good cheer this house will see for years to come.?

Iowa Wesleyan?s Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Meg Richtman said she was ?delighted to have these doors back open for scheduled (tours) and this treasure unlocked once again.?

?There are a lot of people who have worked tirelessly in preserving this house, its history and its relevance way before my time. I think it?s really important to acknowledge those people,? she said nodding to the executive committee. ?We?re here today because of them. They have the passion and endurance to keep this place going.?

Villareal said she is taking that passion and using it to not only keep the house open, but to bring a bit of that old-time celebration back into the walls of the home.

?I think the Mt. Pleasant community is so involved in its history and just to have everyone together to celebrate this specific part of our history is wonderful and to have the house filled ... like when the Harlans would have been entertaining or a university president, it really does just harken back to that historical joy,? she said.

Villareal and her husband moved to Mt. Pleasant in November and since then she said the Mt. Pleasant community has been nothing but welcoming. ?My husband and I have seen just how impassioned this community is about keeping and preserving the history and I think that is just overwhelming,? said Villareal, adding she has had so many individuals not only introduce themselves, but also share their connection to the Harlan-Lincoln House.

Liz Garrels, who was greeting guests at the door, said she was thrilled to have the house open once more. ?It?s refreshing, it?s renewing, it?s bringing life back into the house,? she said of having the doors open again. ?We have so many stories to share.?