Spencer is a city in the state of Iowa (United States), and the county seat of Clay County. It is located at the confluence of the Little Sioux and Ocheyedan rivers. The population was 11,233 in the 2010 census, a decline from 11,317 in the 2000 census. Spencer has a notable Clay County Fair, held annually in September, which averages more than 300,000 visitors each year.
Location of Spencer, Iowa
|Coordinates: 43°8′43″N 95°8′50″W|
|• Mayor||Michael "Dough Boy" Johnson|
|• Total||11.18 sq mi (28.96 km2)|
|• Land||11.01 sq mi (28.52 km2)|
|• Water||0.17 sq mi (0.44 km2)|
|Elevation||1,312 ft (400 m)|
|• Density||1,020/sq mi (393.9/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0465608|
The town's late library cat, Dewey Readmore Books, became known throughout the world before his death in 2006. He was immortalized in the book Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron, director of the library, and Bret Witter.
In 1899, growth here was stimulated by construction of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway to the settlement. The county seat operated as a trading center for a county devoted to farming. The railroad carried crops and products into and out of the area.
A 1931 fire, ignited by a dropped sparkler, destroyed more than 100 buildings in the town. As a result, the state legislature banned almost all fireworks until 2017, when a relaxed law was passed. As yet, Spencer has not authorized fireworks sale or use in the city.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.18 square miles (28.96 km2), of which, 11.01 square miles (28.52 km2) is land and 0.17 square miles (0.44 km2) is water. At one point Great Lakes Airlines was headquartered in Summit Township, Clay County, near Spencer.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 11,233 people, 5,018 households, and 3,009 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,020.3 inhabitants per square mile (393.9/km2). There were 5,431 housing units at an average density of 493.3 per square mile (190.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.0% White, 0.5% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 1.3% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.5% of the population.
There were 5,018 households of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.0% were non-families. 34.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.80.
The median age in the city was 41.5 years. 23% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.3% were from 25 to 44; 26.5% were from 45 to 64; and 19.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.7% male and 52.3% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 11,317 people, 4,842 households, and 3,011 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,118.1 people per square mile (431.8/km²). There were 5,151 housing units at an average density of 508.9 per square mile (196.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.57% White, 0.14% African American, 0.13% Native American, 1.11% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.43% of the population.
There were 4,842 households out of which 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.4% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.89.
Age spread: 23.8% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 19.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,970, and the median income for a family was $43,145. Males had a median income of $30,537 versus $21,709 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,153. About 7.3% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.3% of those under age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.
Arts and culture
In 2004, Spencer's downtown business district was recognized as historic and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As the county seat and a railroad stop, Spencer also served as a center of trade for the farming county.
Also in 2004, the State Historical Society of Iowa certified the Spencer Downtown Cultural District as one of the initial eight such projects across the state. Spencer's proposal for this designation included remodeling the old Spencer Middle School building as a multi-purpose facility, to include a senior citizen center, affordable housing units, and a restored facade. Future work on the project for the former Middle School will restore the historic auditorium. The State Historical Society designation also recognizes the city's renovation of its Grand Avenue bridge to include a public art work: commissioned stained glass plates in an Art Deco style.
Current cultural attractions in Spencer include the Spencer Community Theater, the Parker House Museum, Clay County Heritage, and various public art displays. Arts on Grand also is a cultural attraction that is a nonprofit organization which is supporting local area artists with a gallery shop, exhibits, classes, workshops, tours, fundraising events, and other activities. The Curiel-Reynolds School of Visual Arts (CRVA) relocated from Detroit, Michigan to Spencer in 2007.
Spencer's Public Library is where the library cat known as Dewey Readmore Books resided from January 18, 1988, until November 29, 2006. His story, with much about the town of Spencer, is told in Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (2008), by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter, and related children's versions and audio books.
The Spencer Community School District operates public schools.
- Air travel
The Spencer Municipal Airport is located three miles (5 km) northwest of the business district of Spencer. Great Lakes Airlines was formerly headquartered there. At the height of Great Lake's service, the airline provided non-stop flights to several locations in the continental United States using Beechcraft 1900D and EMB Brasilia aircraft. The airline has since relocated to Cheyenne, Wyoming. The fixed-base operator is Leading Edge Aviation. They provide aircraft charters, rentals and flight instruction.
- Allen W. Batschelet, Major General U.S. Army (Ret), Army Officer
- Dewey Readmore Books, Library Cat
- Vicki Myron, co-author of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
- Roger Neumann, Jazz saxophonist, Flutist, Composer, Arranger, and music educator
- Robert Suderburg, composer, conductor, and pianist
- Robin Thede actress and comedian, host of the The Rundown and creator of/actress on A Black Lady Sketch Show
- Richard L. Tierney, author and poet
- Linda Wejcman, Minnesota legislator
- Chris Van Pelt, Founder of CrowdFlower
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2012-05-11.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-05-11.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 11, 2019.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Population & Housing Occupancy Status 2010". United States Census Bureau American FactFinder. Retrieved 2011-06-21.
- "Data from the 2010 Census". State Data Center of Iowa. Retrieved 2011-06-19.
- Wils, Craig (18 September 2008). "'Dewey the Library Cat' is back on the shelves". USA Today. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- History of Western Iowa, Its Settlement and Growth. Western Publishing Company. 1882. p. 431.
- Gillespie, Samuel (1909). History of Clay County, Iowa: From Its Earliest Settlement to 1909. S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. pp. 91–92.
- Associated Press (June 30, 2017). "Decades after devastating fire, Iowa warily allows fireworks". The News-Gazette.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Welcome to Great Lakes Aviation, Ltd." Great Lakes Airlines. December 5, 1998. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
- "Spencer city, Iowa." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
- Hilkevitch, John. "An Airline Regroups / Great Lakes Flying Again, Though Still Puzzled by Onset of Crisis." Chicago Tribune. May 25, 1997. Business 1. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Culture & History of Historic Downtown Spencer". Spencer Alliance for a Creative Economy (SPACE). 2004. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- "List of Certified Cultural & Entertainment Districts". State Historical Society of Iowa website. Retrieved on 13 August 2010.
- "Launch of Spencer school apartments celebrated". The Daily Reporter. 10 March 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- "Grand opening at remodeled SMS". The Daily Reporter (15 January 2010. Retrieved on 13 August 2010.
- "Grand Avenue bridge art approved". The Daily Reporter (17 July 2010). Retrieved on 13 August 2010.
- "Arts on Grand". Spencer Area Arts Council website. Retrieved on 13 August 2010.
- "Curiel Arts School of Visual Arts (Glass and Jewelry Art School) organization website". Retrieved on 13 August 2010.
- "information page for Curiel-Reynolds School of Visual Arts". American Towns website. Retrieved on 13 August 2010.
- Grand Central Publishing (2008)
- "Spencer." Iowa Department of Education. Retrieved on July 21, 2018.
- "Spencer, Iowa". mapquest. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
- "Dewey Read More Books". About the Author. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Spencer, Iowa.|
- Official City Government website
- Spencer Chamber of Commerce
- Purr 'n' Fur: Dewey Readmore Books, of Spencer Library, Iowa
- Social Networking site of Spencer, Iowa
- City-Data Comprehensive Statistical Data and more about Spencer