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Mill Courtyard Installation at Vesterheim's Heritage Park

Posted: Wed, Sep 9, 2020 9:36 AM

The courtyard for Vesterheim Heritage Park that is located in front of the Painter Bernatz Mill has been installed.  This courtyard features a permeable paver system that was made possible by a Water Quality Initiative grant from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

There are also stone pavers and a concrete pad that will serve as the base for the timber frame shelter that will be erected later this fall.

Thanks to the $100,000 grant, landscaping will use environmentally sensitive elements.  The plan for Heritage Park will make use of four practices to transform currently underutilized, traditionally mowed lawn spaces.  These spaces will be replaced with densely planted, tree covered landscapes with benefits of improving filtration, reducing nutrient and sediment runoff, and demonstraing sustainable storm water management.  The four practices are soil quality restoration, native landscaping, a bioretention cell, and the permeable pavers. The pathways will be ADA accessible as well.

Vesterheim Executive Director Chris Johnson notes, "In our Master Planning process, we are making a shift toward sustainability and this is an early step in that direction," Chris Johnson added. "The Heritage Park plan recognizes our relationship to the Upper Iowa River, which historically used to run next to our property, and our continuing responsibility toward it."

Vesterheim Communications and Marketing Manager Becky Idstorom commented on what is coming up next for the project. She said, "The upcoming steps at Heritage Park include bringing in the larger trees (a number of white pines 12 to 14 foot tall) for the project, work on the 'Restauration' entry plaza, and work on the pathways (a mock-up of the pathway is a key next step). Of course all of this depends on the weather."

In her email, Idstrom also explains a bit of the history of the "Restauration" entry. The "Restauration" was a 54-foot sloop that arrived at New York Harbor nearly 200 years ago. It is considered the first organized emigration from Norway to the United States. The ship transported a total of 52 Norwegian passengers who longed for a better life in America.

Vesterheim's "Restauration" plaza is shaped in the outline of the sloop and sails hang from the buildings above.

For more information, check out Vesterheim's live streams by Jennifer Kovarik on most Thursdays around noon on their Facebook page and their website here. You can scroll through the past posts to see previous live stream videos (including one about the new sails.)