Dow House

Pictured above is the Dow House decorated for Christmas in 2012.

During the third weekend of October, a murder will be committed at the Dow House in Dow City.

One will be reenacted, anyway.

“It’s not a murder mystery like a lot of places have,” said Coleen Barngrover, who is the president of the Friends of the Dow House board.

She wrote the scene that will be performed by other members of the board, though she said reality is the true author.

There is no mystery to the murder, because the murderer is known.

The story concerns Abner Graves, son-in-law of Simeon and Chloe Ann Dow, who were the original owners of the Dow House.

Graves moved away from Iowa when his wife, the Dows’ daughter, died.

He eventually ended up in Denver, Colorado, where, at age 75, he married a woman at least 30 years younger.

By age 90, he was crippled and couldn’t get around very well.

He and his second wife had a dispute over a deed, which was the catalyst for the murder.

“Expect something different, since it’s not your typical murder mystery,” Barngrover said.

She said she did not want to give too much away.

“Nobody really knows that story and that’s what we’re going to show,” Barngrover said.

“I’m a history buff. I want people to see the truth from it and be surprised by it. That’s what makes history so much fun.”

The reenactment grew out of the more than 90 night tours the board conducted last year.

Night tours of the Dow House are unusual because the building has very limited electricity.

“One room has a light, and that is all,” said Jodi Head, Friends of the Dow House secretary.

Many people asked if night tours would take place again this year.

“They asked us to do this again, but we didn’t want to do just the same thing,” Head said. “Coleen, being the wonderful historian that she is, said that she knew there was a story behind Abner Graves.”

“When they come to see it, we will give them a mini-tour,” Barngrover said. “Since the murder did not happen in this house, we’re going to kind of let them get a feel for Abner and give a little background on him. As they go through the house, things happen and the end is a reenactment of the actual event.”

“It is all factual,” Head said. “We’re just amping it up a little bit to make it a little bit more fun.”

Most of the board members have roles.

“We have a good group of people volunteering their time,” Head said.

After the tour, visitors will be invited to the carriage house for food and drinks provided by O’Meara’s, which is a new restaurant/bar in Dow City.

Tour participants will also receive a ticket for a free drink at O’Meara’s.

The tours were initially planned to take place every half-hour from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, October 18, and Saturday, October 19.

“They are 30-minute tours,” Head said. “We had 80 spots and we are almost full, already.”

A 10 p.m. tour has been added to Friday; Head said a 10 p.m. group could be added to Saturday if enough people show interest.

“If an abundance of people wanted an extra tour, we would make it work,” she said.

The event is a fundraiser for the Dow House.

“We always have a lot that needs to be done there,” Barngrover said.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Head said. “It will be a lot of fun, plus a learning experience for many.”

Admission is $15.

For more information or to make a reservation, contact Head at 712-263-2747 or board member Megan Mitchell at 712-269-6009.

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