Sac City Museum will celebrate building’s 100th birthday party

SAC CITY – The Sac City Museum will celebrate the 100th birthday of the W. B. Wayt and Son building from 1 to 4 p.m. on July 4.

The public is welcome to tour the historic building that houses the museum’s main collection and to come to the gazebo in the historic village for refreshments. The Sac City Museum is located at the corner of 13th and Main streets.

In 1867, Wooster (W. B.) Wayt and his brother B. F. Wayt opened a cemetery monument firm in Cedar Rapids.

The brothers moved their business to Jefferson in the early 1870’s. W. B. opened Wayt Monument Works Sac City in 1889, leaving

In 1901, son Leon Wayt became a junior partner in the company. In 1906, the firm entered the wholesale market as well as continuing its retail sales throughout northwest Iowa.

Expanded sales and the need to be near the railroad lead to the building of the 27-by-100 foot structure at the corner of 13th and Main.

Workers began construction in the fall of 1913. The company relinquished its lease on the building at Fifth and Audubon, and needed to move by Dec. 1.

Weather may have hampered progress, as only the basement was ready when the monument company moved.

Spring and summer of 1914 found the new building completed. Pillars of St. Cloud gray marble from a quarry partially owned by the Wayts graced the Greek revival building. Total cost was nearly $15,000 ($350,000 by today’s standards.)

Electric power and compressed air equipment helped the 10 workers produce large quantities of high-quality monuments. A loading dock on the west side of the building allowed blocks of granite to move relatively easily into the building.

A lift system, which is still visible in the back room of the museum, helped moved stones into the showroom. There was a metal forge in the basement and an elevator to move products up to the main floor. Decorative tin ceilings, tall windows and even a marble light fixture enhance the building’s grandeur.

The front office has a curious safe; although the door looks formidable, one could easily crawl through the bathroom window to gain access to the contents.

W. B. Wayt and Son flourished for well over half a century in its home. In 1977, Kallin-Johnson Monument Co., of Fort Dodge, purchased the business and the building.

Farber and Otteman sold monuments for Kallin-Johnson from this location. The Sac County Historical Society assumed ownership of the building in 1982 and opened the Sac City Museum in 1985.

The contributions of 15 people began the transformation from a building dedicated to making monuments for future generations into a building dedicated to preserving monuments of the past.

Since that time, the building has housed exhibits of items of local and regional significance. Visitors will also celebrate the 80th birthday of Jackson No. 7, the country school building in Museum Village.

The Sac City Museum is open from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day or by special appointment. For more information, call (712) 662-4994 or (712) 662-7290.