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Built more than a century ago, the Iowa Canning Seed House is on the National Register.

A piece of local history that was submerged in the Flood of 2008 then substantially damaged in the July 11, 2011 wind storm is now under repair, and also has a new marker honoring its role in 19th and 20th Century Vinton.

The Vinton Canning Seed House at 201 First Avenue, now owned by Joseph and Peggy Schott of Vinton, lost much of its roof during that storm.

In 2012, the Schotts received a $38,500 grant from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to help cover the estimated $68,000 cost of fixing the roof. That project is now nearing completion.

Also, in 2012, the Seed House joined the National Register of Historic Places.

The facility is linked to some of the most well-known names in Vinton history, and was both one of the first of its kind and one of the largest. During its busiest era, before World War I, the plant's employees produced more than 3 million cans annually.

A survey of flood-damaged historic Vinton sites including the following information about the Seed House:

The major historic resource in the neighborhood is the factory warehouse at 201 1st Avenue, which operated under various owners and business names through the years. The earliest available Sanborn Map shows the warehouse as S.H. Watson Canning Company in 1885. Later maps show the building as the Cedar Valley Packing Company in 1892; the Vinton Canning Company in 1899, 1906, 1913, and 1921; and the Iowa Canning Company in 1941. The original business appears to have been established by Samuel H. Watson, a Vinton pioneer, successful banker, and holder of school and town offices.

During the 1890s the canning factory operated under several names with a change to the Kelley Canning Company in ca. 1892. W.C. Ellis, Frank G. Ray and H.B. Kelley served as its owner-officers. In 1895 it was reorganized as the Vinton Canning Company, one of several plants operated as part of the Iowa Canning Company. In the 1890s it was described as the first corn canning factory west of the Mississippi. A decade later in 1905 it had branch factories in La Porte City, Garrison and Shellsburg processing nearly 9 million cans of corn annually under 23 brands. The Vinton operation’s capacity alone exceeded 3 million cans annually including such brands as “Vinton Blue,” “Vinton Yellow,” “Vinton Red,” “Vinton Green,” “Vinton Black,” “Iowa’s Pride,” and “Iowa Chief.” 250 workers are employed during the peak season before World War I.

Recent history

Ideal Industries bought the building in the mid-1980s, and used it as a manufacturing facility for hog confinement equipment and later for other items for several years before selling the building to Mike and Cindy Elwick in 2002. The Elwicks later sold the property to the Schotts.

Other historical references

Kelley Canning token

Ellis House

Frank Ray

Iowa Cultural Affairs Grant Report



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Comments (3)

I noticed the work being done and the sign out front and was wondering what was going on. This article has great history facts leaving out that it was also Purfex and employed many in the 60's-70's? Also, what are they going to do with it now when they're done renovating?
By: Angie Mullenix on January 16th 11:45am
This building was also the Kelty Radiator Company in the early 60's. I was a secretary there with offices on the top floor.
By: Janet Williams on January 16th 12:26pm
After Kelty radiator it was McQuay-Perfex Inc. until it closed in 1981.
By: Mark Phippen on January 16th 4:04pm

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