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Old Capitol to open football exhibit

BY IAN MURPHY | AUGUST 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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Kinnick Stadium won’t be the only place to find stories of Hawkeye legends this fall.

Hawkeye greats such as Randy Duncan, Alex Karras, and coach Forest Evashevski will be featured the exhibit  Birth of the Legacy, which will be on display through Dec. 31 in the Old Capitol Museum. 

Shalla Ashworth, the director of operations for the Pentacrest Museums, said the exhibit features 10 players and five coaches who had a major influence on the first 70 years of the program.

The exhibit features a football signed by Nile Kinnick as well as Homecoming buttons, photos, and a video presentation on the early history of the program.

It also displays a corn monument, a Homecoming tradition until the middle of the 1990s, said exhibit curator Byron Preston.

Starting in 1914, engineering students built the corn monuments, Ashworth said.

Preston said the monuments stood at the intersection of Clinton Street and Iowa Avenue on the Pentacrest and were traditionally burned on Saturday night after the Homecoming game.

For Preston, designing his own corn monument was the hardest part of the exhibit, because each monument had been unique.

“Every one of them was different, so I just decided to make my own,” he said.

Preston’s monument features a large black “I” and notes Indiana, this season's Homecoming opponent, on its base as well as Iowa.

In addition to the monument, the exhibit contains replica helmets and a sweater worn by Karras to his All-American dinner reception, complete with soup stains from the dinner.

Karras won the 1957 Outland Trophy for being the nation’s best lineman and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting.

Ashworth said that along with such stars as Karras, Kinnick, and Duncan, the exhibit includes perhaps lesser-known stars such as Frank Holbrook.

Holbrook, a Tipton native, was the first black Hawkeye athlete. He earned varsity letters in 1895 and 1896.

Holbrook received death threats during a game against Missouri in 1896. The Hawkeyes won 12-0 and refused to play the Tigers again until 1902. The teams played only seven times in the 1900s.

The exhibit opened with a reception Thursday, drawing Hawkeye fans from all over the state.

Ed Dvorak of Guttenberg said he and his wife were in Solon for a family reunion and decided to make a trip to the museum to see the exhibit.

“I’ve found out things I never knew [about Hawkeye football],” Dvorak said.

Others, such as UI junior Maureen Lonergan, attended the exhibit to learn more about the history of Hawkeye football.

“I’m a transfer student, so I’m trying to figure out why everyone goes so nuts,” she said.

Both Ashworth and Preston said they think the exhibit will draw more people to the museum.

“It’s an important subject to people in Iowa City,” Ashworth said. “It’s Iowa football.”

Preston said he thinks the exhibit will draw many patrons this weekend with Fry Fest and the football season opener.

“Who doesn’t love football?” he said.


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