Traer’s Taylor Park Bandstand


TRAER – Traer got its name from John Wells Traer, an employee of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Northern railroad, who purchased land for the expansion of the train line westward. The town was built on land owned by Giles Taylor, father of E. E. Taylor, founder of the Traer Star-Clipper newspaper. The land for Taylor Park was donated by Giles Taylor.

In 1901, the city passed a millage levy for installation of sidewalks, a fountain, and a bandstand in the park. The bandstand was built in 1905 by Alexander N. Glaze, a local contractor who also built the bandstand at Buckingham Cemetery, Blessing and the first St. Paul Catholic Church.

The Taylor Park Bandstand was one of less than 30 included in The Oberlin Book of Bandstands by S. Frederick Starr, copyright 1987. From the book, “There was a time, a century ago, when village bandstands on the green served as gathering places for communities all over America.”

The book mentions that thousands of bandstands were erected in American towns and cities from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Quote, “Typical is one built in 1905 and still standing in the park in Traer, Iowa. Hexagonal in plan, this plain but expressive structure could have been built in a few days by carpenters. The same simplicity is achieved in bandstands in Reading, Pennsylvania; in the town of Central Square, New York; and in city park in Houston, Texas.”

Only a few of the thousands of bandstands built remain. Traer renovated the bandstand in Taylor Park in 1977 and again in 2023. Although it is not used nearly as often as it was years ago, it is a city landmark that must be maintained. Recently, the bandstand has been a popular place for photos of family and community groups.

The bandstand in Buckingham Cemetery. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE KADRMAS

The bandstand in Buckingham cemetery is similar in design but used decorative concrete blocks and less wood for the structure. Bands performed regularly at the cemetery during Memorial Day programs years ago.

Both bandstands are attractive assets to their surroundings and provide a nostalgic view of bygone days when band performances were a regular event. The structures are well worth maintaining and maybe one day there will be music in the park on a regular basis.