Iowa Wesleyan University auctioned off piece by piece after closure

Iowa Wesleyan University auctioned off piece by piece after closure
Published: Aug. 6, 2023 at 11:24 PM CDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa Wesleyan University was where Dean King decided his direction in life back in 1949.

“I would have been two years old,” said King.

His sister took tap lessons, and he’d watch her rehearse. When it came time for the recital at the chapel on campus he said, “The teacher got up and said, ‘We got a big surprise for you.’ And then they brought me up on the stage...They started a routine, and I just did it with her. And it just brought the house down.”

King added, “I said, ‘You know what, I kind of really enjoy people clapping for me.’ And I’ve been a performer ever since.”

With a 181-year history, there are many, many memories of Iowa Wesleyan like King’s. However, there won’t be any new memories made in coming years.

In March, the Board of Trustees at Iowa Wesleyan voted to close the university at the end of the academic year. They cited financial challenges, including increased operating costs and a significant drop in philanthropic giving, as the reason for the closure.

Sunday, thousands of items from the historic campus were up for auction.

Rod Backes, Vice President of Backes Auctioneering, said of the auction, “It’s massive. This is one of the larger ones we’ve gotten into.”

Dolores Poulter “D. P.” Wilson came to the school as a student in 1959, and was hired as a teacher in 1963. “This has just been a wonderful place of love,” she said.

Like when you lose anything you love, there’s grief.

“At my age, there’s a lot of things that are sad,” said King. “You lose a lot of people and you lose a lot of stuff.”

Wilson, King, and so many others have lost this part of their history, but King’s perspective is one that includes acceptance: no person, or place, stays on stage forever.

“It’s done. I mean, you can cry over spilt milk or you can move on. So I’m here, playing the pianos.”

Members of the public can view the items for auction on campus; the auction itself is online here.