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Construction begins on gateway public art project in Grinnell

Site work has begun on a small park and public art project at the southeast corner of Highway 146 and Highway 6 commemorating the community’s history.

GRINNELL, Iowa — Located at the southeast corner of state Highways 146 and 6, the new gateway public art project is intended to welcome people to the community by commemorating Grinnell’s history and celebrating its intersecting lives and histories.  This project was first initiated in 2016, the final work will feature ornate wooden structures that echo the walls of homes and a carriage house that originally stood at this site. The paths in the small park are reminiscent of the walkways on the Grinnell College campus where students have crossed paths for generations. 

“This piece, ‘Grinnell Crossroads,’ is an exciting opportunity to take a long-vacant lot and bring it back to life in a way that celebrates what is special about Grinnell,” said Raynard Kington, president of Grinnell College.  “J.B. Grinnell chose to build his town here where the railroads would cross. Grinnell always has been a place where people could connect to the larger world while still being part of a close community. The artist’s vision was to celebrate these connections and crossings. Located at the main entry to town, we hope the piece will invite residents and visitors alike to explore the heritage of the community in a new and different way.” 

The project was designed by artist Walter Hood, 2019 winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and numerous other awards. To design the piece, the artist researched Grinnell’s past, including a visit to the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma and review of historic plot maps. He also reviewed aerial photos of Grinnell at present and visited the community to meet with numerous groups and individuals, including Grinnell College faculty, staff and students, the Grinnell Area Arts Council, the Grinnell Tourism Committee, the City of Grinnell, Chamber of Commerce and a Grinnell College Modern Architecture class led by Professor Alfredo Rivera.  

Construction on the site will continue for the next several weeks, with the help of companies like this, as landscaping continues and portions of the sculpture arrive on-site for installation. Residents and visitors to Grinnell will be able to explore the piece in person beginning early this summer.

About Grinnell College

Grinnell College, a private liberal arts college in Iowa founded in 1846, provides individually advised learning for intellectually engaged students to produce graduates who are prepared to navigate the world’s complexities and responsibly contribute to the common good. Grinnell enrolls 1,700 students from around the world, who earn bachelor’s degrees in a range of disciplines across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell’s rigorous academic program and campus life emphasize excellence in education through free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas, a diverse community and social responsibility and action. More information about Grinnell College is available at

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