116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — A non-partisan Iowa charity is taking a panel of the governor’s appointees to court for allegedly seizing control over artifacts in the governor’s mansion.
Terrace Hill, at 2300 Grand Ave. in Des Moines, is the official residence of the governor of the state, and is a National Historic Landmark built in 1869.
The Terrace Hill Society Foundation says that for nearly 50 years, the foundation and its predecessors received hundreds of items of donated property, including historical artifacts as well as monetary donations used for the restoration, preservation and improvement of Terrace Hill.
The foundation says it worked closely and cooperatively with the Terrace Hill Commission, a state entity that manages the governor’s residence, in part by placing items from its collection of artifacts on display at Terrace Hill.
The foundation alleges that in recent years, a disagreement has developed between the commission and the foundation regarding ownership and control over the collection, “resulting in the commission, in effect, seizing control of the collection” and denying the foundation access to it.
As a result, the foundation says, it must now seek a declaratory judgment from the court that states the foundation, and not the commission, is the sole owner of all of the items in the collection, as well as all the monetary donations.
In a news release, the foundation said it was reluctant to take legal action against the commission and did so only as a last resort. “Numerous attempts over several years to amicably and informally resolve these pending issues with the commission have been met with indifference and inaction,” the foundation stated.
The commission has repeatedly rebuffed any efforts by the foundation to inspect, maintain and repair items in the collection, the foundation added.
The Terrace Hill Commission is a nine-person board, created by statute and appointed by the governor, that provides for the preservation, maintenance, renovation, landscaping and administration of Terrace Hill. The commission has yet to file a response to the court petition, and commission members could not be reached for comment.
According to the commission’s website, its current members include Gov. Kim Reynolds’ husband, Kevin Reynolds; Kristin Hurd; William Dikis; Brad Duffy; Jerry Mathiasen; Rob Reinard; Heather Soener; Julie Stewart; and Kasey Vogel.
A separate, private entity called the Terrace Hill Partnership works with the commission and raises money to preserve and enhance the property. The nonprofit partnership includes Hurd as its chair and lists Kevin Reynolds as an ex officio member.
The partnership claims on the official Terrace Hill website that it is “the only nonprofit organization that supports Terrace Hill.”
This article first appeared in the Iowa Capital Dispatch.