WINTERSET, Iowa- The new $2.5 million John Wayne Birthplace opens to the public amid ceremony and dignitaries on Saturday. The new 6500 square foot building sits opposite the block of the house where John Wayne was born. The little house now no longer has to house offices and John Wayne memorabilia, so it has reverted to 1910 era furnishings.
“I can only imagine he would be exceedingly embarrassed, and somewhat proud,” said Brian Downes, speaking of what the Duke might think of this museum. Downes, once met Wayne, and now is the Executive Director of the John Wayne Birthplace Museum. “He had a lot of emotions going on all at once, like all great people do, I think he’d be humbled.”
Starting Friday the John Wayne Movie “Chisum” is showing for free, at the Iowa Theater.
The main events on Saturday include a pancake breakfast starting at 7, Tours of the new museum take place from 9 to 11 am, reservations are required. At Noon the ribbon cutting for the new building will take place. Governor Branstad, and John Wayne’s daughter are expected in attendance.
Raising money for the new museum was not easy. Downes said he started the task in 2008.
“During the 2008 great recession asking for funds for something like this was a fool’s errand,” said Downes. A friend in the organization helped him out. ” He used the term stamina, he was absolutely right, I never forgot that word.”
In the evening Saturday John Wayne’s “Big Jake” movie, there is a free showing at the Iowa. At 5 there is a dinner, and speeches. Marty Stuart will be giving a concert in the evening.
On Sunday there will be Cowboy Church, Mounted Shooting competition, and the John Wayne Movie, Rio Lobo free showing at the Iowa.
Tours of the Birthplace Museum will also be given on Memorial Day, reservations are required.
Here is the schedule for the John Wayne Birthplace Museum.