The town of Livermore was situated at the
junction of the Rock Island and the M. and St. L. railroads. It is a
beautiful location, close to the west bank of the East Des Moines
River, and on the northwest, borders upon a deep wooded ravine of
Lott's Creek. It was laid out in the fall of 1879 under the name of
During the year of 1879 the M. and St. L.
railroad was being built from Britt to Fort Dodge. There was a debate
over the location of the line. It was do to the influence of C.C.
Washburne, Governor of Iowa, that the road curved west through the
central part of Humboldt county instead of the first proposed
straighter line several miles East. The grateful villagers wished to
name their town in his honor.
The M. and St. L. Railroad reached the
settlement in December 1879. By January 24, 1880, a stronger influence
had been felt for the town was plotted and filed for record on that
date as "Livermore." The Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern
Railroad was finished to Livermore in the fall of 1881. By April 1882
the town had outgrown its village clothes and was duly incorporated
under the laws of the state. George Tillson was elected its first
Gazette Article - Sept. 1882
"Perhaps it would not be amiss to say a word
this week in regard to Livermore. It is very pleasantly situated in
the edge of the timber near the east fork of the Des Moines River and
at the junction of the M. and St.. L, and the B. C. R and N.
railroads, ten miles north of the county seat. It is surrounded by as
good a farming county as can be found in Iowa. Its population is about
400 and its businessmen are mostly young men of energy and enterprise.
Everything shows marked signs of thrift. A Catholic Church, a two
story schoolhouse and mill are all fine improvements and just being
completed. The town is filled with land seekers but no loafers. The
main street from East to West consists of, J. B. Altman's blacksmith
shop, Clark's grocery, Hewitt's flour, feed and grocery, E. S. Frank's
drug store, Robert Roy's boot and shoe shop, Geo. Turner's livery
stable, Perry Tuttle's restaurant, C. M. Hamilton's Furniture Store,
S.C. Mc Cauley's Dry goods and Grocery, Shemmon and Merril's Hardware,
M. H. Dealy's dry goods and grocery, W. D. Weeds' boot and shoe store,
J. Meagher's meat market, J. M. Meagher's dry goods and grocery, A.
Turner's grocery, B. J. Conklin's harness shop, Miss Dell Talcott's
Millinery, and G. A. Luther's blacksmith shop. Among the hotels are
the City Hotel, a block N. of Main St., the St. James Hotel, between
the two depots, and the Weeks House on Main St.
The M. E. Church in the western part of town
is a well built and nicely finished building with a seating capacity
of about 200, and free from debt. It was built at a cost of $1,800.
The Baptists and Presbyterian each have a parsonage and expect in the
near future to build a place of worship. The Catholic Church and the
public school are in the east part of town. There are also lumber
yards and a mill. These with the residential portion constitute the
greater share of the busy little village of Livermore.
When we take into consideration the fact that
the first building was put up here less than three years ago, that new
enterprises are constantly being added, that the railroad facilities
are unexcelled by any town in Northwestern Iowa, and that the
surrounding country is almost unequaled we think they bespeak a
healthy condition, and we predict a prosperous future."
Gazette December 29, 1882
On December 24, 1882, "the prosperous future"
that was predicted in October didn't look so prosperous. The headlines
of the Gazette for December 299th were, "Livermore in Ashes."
About 4 o'clock a.m. last Sunday the
inhabitants of Livermore were hurriedly called from their beds to
witness and fight and fire which originated in the Meagher meat market
situated near the center of main street, which contained nearly all
the business places in the town.
Owing to the fact that the fire had gained
considerable headway before it was discovered, the flames spread from
that to the J. J. Meagher Dry Goods store on the west and it was with
great effort that willing hands succeeded in removing a part of the
stock from the flames. None of their household goods were saved except
one trunk and its contents. The women escaped in their night clothes
with not even a pair of stockings to shield them from the fire or the
snow. Mary and J. M. Meagher escaped the flames only by jumping from a
back window onto a shed and from there to the ground. The buildings on
the opposite side of the street were saved by constantly throwing
water and keeping carpets saturated which hung from the top of the
buildings. It was but a short time until all the buildings on the east
were on fire and the flames stopped only when there was no more to
burn. It is a solemn ordeal to pass through. It is sad sight to see
the earnings of a lifetime licked up in a few moments. While we
greatly sympathize with all in their loss we rejoice that no lives
were lost and all are left with their physical strength to enter once
more into the battlefield of life. May their efforts be successful and
their fortunes, which so suddenly fled, come back to them ten-fold."
The business district at that time was one
block north of the present main street on what is now Highway 222.
The Gazette of February 1883 gives this
account. " The businessmen met for the purpose of determining the
question as to whether they should go up on the hill between the two
depots. Mr. A. Branaman of Reinbeck was present and promised that he
would come and start a good bank as soon as the businessmen of
Livermore would decide to move their buildings on top of the hill."
As a large number of business places had to
be rebuilt the town was later moved up the hill to its present
location. The Livermore Gazette changed hands several times until it
was purchased in 1884 by W.F. Miller who continued to publish it for
sixty two years.
Having been started on July 5, 1882, Jasper
Lodge No. 424, AF and AM is the oldest active organization in town.
The Order of Eastern Star was instituted February 27, 1903. The
Twentieth Century Club, a member of the General Federation of Women's
Clubs, was organized in 1901 - Federated 1902. Besides the Federation
projects the club maintained two loan closets for sick room suppliers.
The Equality Club was organized in 1913. It was through the efforts of
this club that the Community Library was started in 1936.
To the American Legion and its Auxiliary we
owe our Memorial Day Services and Independence Day Celebrations. The
Legion also sponsored the organizing of the Boy Scout Troops.
The Lion's Club was organized in 1938. Its
activities are two fold, first , civic improvement in the local
community, second, the projects of the Lions International namely,
The Miller Opera House
Livermore was a town that from the very
beginning did not lack for good social entertainment for their own
community, as well as its surrounding neighbors. In 1891, W.F. Miller
constructed at 70' x 25' opera house, at the southwest end of Main
Street. This building held 400 people and was called "Miller's Opera
House." The interior of the building had fancy opera seats and a fine
stage. The operas that were performed were of a refined class.
Then in late 1919 or early 20's, Frank
Collins purchased the opera house. Dances, stage shows and silent
movies were presented for public entertainment. In the late 20's, Bert
Sheppard took over this building, enlarged it, and added a roller
In 1945, Rich Osborn, and John Olson leased
the building and used it for a repair shop. Later, Bob Shaw used it to
make cement blocks. The building was finally taken down by Iner
St. James Hotel
In March, 1880, "Doc" Russell constructed a
20' x 120' brick building which was the "St. James Hotel." In the late
teens the Rossing sisters, Amalia and Kate purchased the hotel and
along with this, had a dining room and cafe. In the 20's the business
was leased to Tony Mack. After a few years, the Rossing sisters again
took over the hotel and leased it to a niece, Dorothy (and Carl)
Pedersen. They managed it until 1938, when Lester and Helen Smith,
from Waterloo, purchased the building and remodeled it into a dance
hall. The dance hall was called the "Figueroa," named after the
longest street in Los Angels, CA. Thanksgiving night in 1940, the
dance hall was sold to Millie and John Groh, and the Smith's moved to
Nora, MN. Bill and Helen Nunamaker bought the place in November of
1945, and in 1951 it was sold to Ace and Irene Bordwell. In 1956,
Leonard and Alice Roseau purchased it and from a dance hall it went to
a roller skating rink and a bowling alley and then back to a dance
hall. Then in March of 1976, "Rose" sold it to Melvin Mertz and in the
month of June 1979 the building burned down, thus ending the history
of a nearly 100 year old building.