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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Keith Carter Museum to open at Allee Mansion

Monday, July 30, 2012

Keith Carter
Keith Carter lived an exciting life and he loved sharing it and the 30 years of memories he gathered while serving as a teacher in the Middle East from 1962-93.

Through those years, he was passionate about collecting keepsakes from the 108 countries he traveled. When he returned to his home in Newell, he created his own museum - known as Arabia Heritage Museum - and loved sharing with the many, many visitors to his home.

Carter passed away last year but before he did, he was able to share his wishes that the collection be split up so that it could continue to be enjoyed.

The Allee Mansion is a work in progress. This room is one that volunteers recently completed - notice the intricate ceiling details.
The Newell Library received many pieces prior to his death and the Newell Historical Society gladly accepted a large collection which will have a permanent home in two rooms on the second level of Allee Mansion, once a storage room.

This collection includes oil and watercolor art work, hand woven tapestries and baskets, fabric appliqués, prayer rugs and Arabic scarves, as well as brass and copper coffee pots.

An open house will be held at Allee Mansion Saturday, Aug. 4 from 1-5 p.m. The Keith Carter Museum will have its grand opening on this day with a ribbon cutting to take place at 2:30 p.m.

Carter, who grew up near Newell and graduated in 1950, went off to college to become a teacher. After a few years of teaching in Illinois, he responded to a newspaper ad for teachers willing to teach abroad; teaching children of oil company employees. He spent 20 years in Libya and 10 years in Saudia Arabia teaching sixth grade but was able to travel to many more areas in Africa, Asia, Central and North and South America and Europe.

Growing up on a farm, he always said, there was no time for travel so as an adult, he decided to explore the world and make his own adventure and what a marvelous adventure he had - seeing over 100 countries in 30 years!

Marilyn Monson of the Newell Historical Society shared that information on many of the pieces were received along with them and a video made by Carter was also provided.

Still, she said, she and the other devoted NHS members want to know more.

"We are in the learning process and we are learning everyday."

And it is the desire of the members to know as much as they can about the pieces so they can share with others and educate them like Carter did when he talked about the pieces in his collection. They know that they will never be as knowledgeable as Carter who had stories to go along with each piece in his collection.

Carter loved the Allee Mansion and visited often and even provided music for visitors so to have a part of his collection there, where it can continue to be enjoyed, said Monson, would greatly please him. To have a vision and bring so many pieces to life is a wonderful feat and one that is the objective of all members of NHS.

"We enjoyed Keith then and we will continue to enjoy Keith," she said.

Parts of Carter's collection can also be found, among other places, at Buena Vista University, Luther College (where he had many connections) and University of Northern Iowa (where his adopted niece is employed.)

In addition to the Keith Carter collection, the NHS volunteers have made some other wonderful changes to the Mansion.

Six months of extensive interior remodeling of the 1891 Queen Ann Victorian home have been completed.

Wallpaper projects were finished, sheet rock and texturing completed, and 35 gallons of paint were applied by volunteers. New displays have been created with restored vintage furniture and light fixtures. Many items which have been in storage are now in place for everyone to enjoy.

New to see are the restored butler's quarters, two upstairs bedrooms and a sitting room.

The volunteers have put their heart and soul into the preservation of the mansion and all of the antiques that make it into a home and the State Historical Society of Iowa has taken notice, presenting NHS with the Loren Horton Community Historical Society Award - the award for having outstanding use of volunteers.

There will be no admission taken to attend the open house on Saturday, Aug. 4. There will be hands on displays for all ages and refreshments. There will also be antique tractors on the lawn to enjoy. The State Historical Award will be presented following the ribbon cutting of the Keith Carter Museum.

Allee Mansion is located on the Iowa State University Research Farm one mile south of Newell.

Everyone is invited to attend.

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