Photo: Sherman’s Chimney Swifts’ Tower



The Althea R. Sherman Project










About Us

Who We Are        Our Mission    

Who We Are

The Songbird Project (SP)

Established in 1990, as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation, The Songbird Project is devoted to public education about the significance of songbirds as an indicator species, and to the improvement and conservation of their habitats. It organizes and conducts educational programs for school students and the public, on birds, bird life, and bird habitat. Special emphasis is on the role birds play in healthy and well-balanced ecosystems.

SP also conducts field programs to involve people in direct efforts to enhance bird populations and habitat. Throughout the past 20 years SP has established many Bluebird trails and Purple Martin colonies in the area. A yearly Purple Martin seminar/workshop draws participants from around Iowa and the Midwest.

The Althea R. Sherman Project (ARSP)

The Songbird Project’s mission expanded in late 1992 when it was learned that Althea Sherman’s Chimney Swifts’ Tower was in serious disrepair. Previously saved from destruction in 1962, it had become a liability by 1992. The owners were unsuccessful in finding anyone to take responsibility for the Tower, and it was to be razed.

Instead, the Tower was donated (along with a significant collection of Sherman’s written materials) to The Songbird Project for the purpose of preservation. It was moved to Iowa City and has been in protected storage awaiting its permanent site.

Due to the encompassing scope of the project, a separate Steering Committee was formed to manage all aspects of this commitment. The Althea R. Sherman Project was created. ARSP works to preserve, interpret, and promote the Sherman legacy. The Songbird Project is the parent organization.

ARSP recently formed a partnership with the Cedar County Historical Society to site the Tower and establish a museum and educational center on their 540-acre Bickett-Rate Memorial Preserve.

The Cedar County Historical Society (CCHS)

The Cedar County Historical Society was founded in 1958 when several history-minded citizens dedicated themselves to the preservation and cataloging of their county history. There are about 420 members from all corners of the United States. Their Museum (on Hwy 38 in Tipton, Iowa) houses an extensive collection of Cedar County History

• the beginning of a Pioneer Village including an historic church

• an 1842 log cabin

• a blacksmith shop, and

• a country school.

Future plans include a tin shop and working farm buildings and exhibits.

Among other properties, CCHS owns the 540-acre Bickett-Rate Memorial Preserve near Buchanan, Iowa. This is the new home of Althea Sherman’s Chimney Swifts’ Tower.

The property’s Edgewood Hall house is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Formerly a site of the Rate Glove Factory, the farm now boasts farmland that is currently in production, one and one-half miles of Cedar River frontage, an original log cabin, a sand prairie, extensive timbered areas, and a wealth of native wildflowers.

Visit the CCHS web site for information on CCHS’s Museum, other properties, and activities.

Our Mission and Goals

To preserve, protect, and promote the ornithological and artistic legacy of Althea R. Sherman

We recognize five major areas of interest that are vital to the integrity of rehabilitating and conserving Althea Sherman’s Chimney Swifts’ Tower, her written contributions, and to interpreting the vision of her life’s work. Reaching these goals will provide uniquely valuable and sustainable educational resources in history, culture, science, ornithology, natural history, art, literature, and women’s studies.

These goals, developed in 1993, ratified in 2001, then reratified in 2006 include:

I. Collecting Althea R. Sherman's papers, art work, memorabilia, artifacts, and oral history

II. Siting and Rehabilitation of the Chimney Swifts' Tower

III. Research and Educational Uses of the Sherman Swifts' Tower

IV. Fundraising

V. Creating an administrative and financial framework to support goals throughout the lifespan of the resource

View our Mission and Goals in expanded form.

Photo: portrait of Althea R. Sherman

Althea Rosina Sherman

© Oberlin College Archives. Oberlin, Ohio

Contact Us
1033 E. Washington St   •   Iowa City, IA 52240-5248
319.668.1838   •

updated      05.18.15
Grafic: pen and ink drawing of Sherma’s Chimney Swifts’ Tower by William J. Wagner, AIA

Sherman’s Chimney Swifts' Tower

© William J. Wagner, FAIA (1965)