No Grant Wood murals found at Tallcorn

There is no evidence Grant Wood murals existed at the former Hotel Tallcorn, according to a report issued Thursday by architect Evan Shaw of KB Architects of Des Moines and Minneapolis.

However, small remnants of murals painted by Edgar Britton and Edgar Miller, both of Chicago, were discovered.

The Times-Republican first reported in October, 2012 that Britton and Miller worked at the site.

Britton apprenticed under Wood for many years and is known to have assisted Wood on murals that decorated three other Eppley hotels in Iowa, according to Shaw.

Eppley Hotels Co., of Omaha constructed the Hotel Tallcorn, 134 E. Main St. and opened in October, 1928.

Wood was commissioned to decorate the ball room and restaurant known as the Iowa Corn Room by Eppley, according to Times-Republican archives from the 1920s.

Shaw shared his report at a meeting with Cynthia Lee of CommonBond Community, Michelle Spohnheimer of the city of Marshalltown, Jay Carollo of the Historical Society of Marshall County and media at the building Thursday afternoon.

Lee, associate vice president of housing development for CommonBond, which purchased the building in December, 2012, said the murals may have been removed when the Tallcorn was heavily remodeled in 1961.

Many of the original walls and finishes were removed. And there were significant alterations to the Bow and Arrow and Corn rooms, where the murals were located.

Additionally, columns containing other murals were covered over with a layer of thin brick, a new ceiling installed, and a new stairway was inserted where the Corn Room once was.

Lee said copies of the 1927 Hotel Monthly magazine provided by former building owners B.O. and Barbara Bryngelson, determined the murals were in the Bow and Arrow and Corn Rooms.

“Once we determined the mural locations were in those rooms and not the ballroom, we went about removing wall coverings very delicately and systematically, in accordance with historical preservation guidelines,” Lee said.

It is unlikely the murals would be found elsewhere in the hotel, Shaw said.

However, he is withholding final judgement until a staircase is removed.

It was unclear exactly in 1961 when the remodeling took place or who owned the building then.

Building ownership was in transition a the time according to Carollo.