community
Winterset

Winterset, IA is a beautiful community located about a ½ hour drive SW of the greater Des Moines Metro area and is the county seat and retail center of Madison County. The population of Winterset is about 5,500 and the community has lots of business, manufacturing, retail, services, restaurants, and entertainment available. The town was platted in the summer of 1849, and the town was originally to be name "Summerset," but the unseasonable coldness made the commissioners reverse this and named the town "Winterset". Don’t let that story make you think it is always cold here.

 

The area is ripe with history, including the six remaining covered bridges in Madison County, which is the inspiration and location for the well-known novel, movie, and Broadway musical, The Bridges of Madison County.  Much of the movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep was filmed on location in Madison County.

 

Madison County was located on a very active section of the Underground Railroad from 1857 through 1862. Most of the activity took place in rural areas. Prominent Winterset businessmen seemingly funded the work while farmers and their families assisted the Freedom Seekers on their way through the county. All these people risked their lives in the process.

 

Marion Robert Morrison, most known by his stage name of John Wayne, was born in Winterset on May 26, 1907. The house he was born in as well as a museum are located in town.

 

George Washington Carver, a famous scientist, humanitarian, and artist arrived in Winterset in 1888. He lived in Winterset before heading 25 miles east to Simpson College in Indianola, IA. There is a display dedicated to Dr. Carver at Winterset Art Center and Carver Park in Winterset is a memorial to the well-known American citizen.

 

In 2022, construction workers digging along the highway on the north side of Winterset discovered the underground cellar that was next to a brewery that opened in the 1860’s. Some locals weren’t happy about the business being located in town, so it was forced out in the 1880’s. The building has been long gone, but the beer cellar – which is in amazing condition – has been left untouched all these years.

 

There are many large stately homes original to the community still standing and currently used as homes. It is fun to drive the mature tree lined streets of town just looking at the architecture of homes and buildings. Some, like the Judge Lewis House and Heavenly Habitat B&B, are used as bed and breakfasts making Winterset an enjoyable place to visit for the weekend.

 

There are many wineries and breweries in the area that are fun to visit. The Winterset Municipal Airport, located on the north side of town is busy with general aviation. Madison County Memorial Hospital is located in town and is equipped to take care of any medical emergency. You have numerous state, county, and city parks to enjoy in the area. The North River and the Middle River are great rivers to paddle. There are many places to put in and take out.

 

The bottom line for Winterset and Madison County is that you will have a hard time finding a better place to visit and call home.

 

Looking for a home in Winterset? Contact Jon Niemeyer at 515-490-4675 or jon@exitrealtynorthstar.com.

 

-Written by Jon Niemeyer. All information is current as of 1/10/2024.

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