Photo of Visitor Center with Lincoln Highway Marker
Visitor Center with Lincoln Highway Marker. Photograph by Bob Campagna, 1994.

The Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission’s mission is to identify, interpret and protect the historic and archaeological resources of our community and encourage historic tourism.

To serve on the Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission (MVHPC) one has to be a resident of the City of Mt. Vernon. In addition, commissioners need to have an interest or expertise in historic preservation, history, architectural history, architecture, or related fields.

In addition to the Commission’s duties to help preserve and protect the historic resources of the community, the MVHPC is charged under a city ordinance with reviewing all building permits within the three historic districts (Cornell, Ash Park, and Commercial). Permit applications are reviewed for appropriateness of the proposed projects according to the Mt. Vernon design guidelines and those of the Secretary of the Interior.

Commissioners also have an obligation to take training in historic preservation and related topics annually. This can mean taking free short online courses offered by the National Park Service and attending conferences, seminars or work shops that are held throughout the year. The MVHPC tries to hold regular seminars in historic preservation to meet this obligation as well.

The MVHPC is a working commission that has conducted a number of preservation and education projects over the years. This has included conducting intensive surveys and evaluations, National Register of Historic Places nominations, historic tours, participating in community events, taking tours of historic places, audio tours, website development, and a variety of activities to help promote and further historic preservation in the community.

Commissioners must attend meetings throughout the year. We have a regular monthly meeting (generally the first Saturday at 9:15 am unless it falls on a holiday weekend) and a potential second meeting held mid-month at 5:30 pm during the building season to review any building permits that have been submitted for review prior to the next regular meeting. While 100% attendance at meetings is not required, the MVHPC must have a quorum to conduct official business and design reviews, so regular attendance is needed.

Anyone who meets these requirements can apply at City Hall. Appointments are made by the Mayor and are based on meeting the requirements and having a vacancy currently open. The appointments run for three years.


  • Leah Rogers, chair
  • Guy Booth
  • Ed Sauter
  • Hugh Lifson
  • Janet Budack
  • Susan Hargus
  • Mary Evans
  • Caroline Kelly
  • Suzette Astley
  • Machele Pelkey
  • Peter Ault
  • Grace Rowray
  • Dick Thomas, emeritus


  • Three districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Ash Park, Cornell College, Commercial
  • Enacted a Design Review ordinance for the designated historic districts
  • Provide technical assistance and expertise on historic preservation projects
  • Assist property owners in emergency situations to obtain grants from the State Historical Society of Iowa
  • Assist property owners with information and contacts for state and federal historic preservation tax credits and available grant funding
  • Spearheaded a historic masonry evaluation of all brick buildings in the Commercial District
  • Launched the MVHPC Website
  • Cemetery Records Preservation
  • Conduct seminars in proper preservation techniques: porch restoration, historic paint colors, window restoration, masonry repairs
  • Walking tours of the historic districts
  • Preservation of the Mickey Woods Historic Mount Vernon mural
  • City Records Preservation
  • Educational Publications
  • Summer student internship