Following a fun debate at work about town squares in my own region, I decided to create a bracket of 64 for Main Streets and Town Squares in Iowa. These Main Streets and Town Squares have been the center of commerce, life and history for these communities across the state.
Due to the sheer number of towns to start, I decided to wait until we reached the Sweet 16 round to truly give these communities a showcase. All polling has been done through the Twitter polling feature, and hyperlinks will be available below.
#1 Harlan vs #4 Carroll
Harlan defeated #16 Corning and #9 Red Oak to reach the Sweet 16. Harlan’s Town Square is anchored by the Shelby County Courthouse and features a full square with historic buildings, a theatre, restaurants and a floral shop.
Carroll defeated #12 Cherokee and #5 LeMars to reach the Sweet 16. Carroll’s downtown area is a retail and commercial hub for West-Central Iowa and its smaller outlying agricultural communities.
#3 Atlantic vs #7 Spencer
Atlantic defeated #14 Guthrie Center and #11 Denison to reach the Sweet 16. The home of Coca Cola distribution in Iowa, and the county seat of Cass County has a five-block long historic commercial strip along Main Street, anchored by a town square and a train station.
Spencer defeated #10 Sheldon and upset #2 Clarinda to reach the Sweet 16. The largest collection of art deco buildings in the state exists in Spencer due to a massive fire downtown due to a fireworks accident. Most buildings along Spencer’s Main Street were destroyed and rebuilt in this architectural style following the 1931 fire.
#1 Winterset vs #5 Clear Lake
Winterset, the Madison County seat, defeated #16 Montezuma and #9 Nevada to reach the Sweet 16. Winterset is known to be the birthplace of John Wayne, the home of the Covered Bridge Festival, and has a well-preserved town square centered by the Madison County Courthouse.
Clear Lake’s Downtown lies along the shores of Clear Lake, a popular tourist and boating destination in North Central Iowa. This Main Street includes a city park, views of the lake, and the famous Surf Ballroom.
#2 Grinnell vs #6 Adel
Grinnell is home to Grinnell College and reached the Sweet 16 by knocking off #15 Osceola and #10 Algona. This college town has a bustling town square with unique architecture, numerous shops and restaurants which are staples for the college and the community.
The home of Heisman winner Nile Kinnick and the Dallas County Seat, Adel beat #11 Grundy Center and upset #3 Newton to reach the Sweet 16. Adel features an impressive county courthouse which centers its town square.
#1 Decorah vs #4 Waverly
Nestled in the driftless region of Iowa and home of the famous Toppling Goliath Brewery, top seeded Decorah beat #16 Bellevue and #9 Dyersville to reach the Sweet 16. Decorah is home to Luther College and has a bustling Main Street which is a regional staple and economic driver for the region.
Located north of Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Waverly is home to Wartburg College and beat out #13 Traer and #5 Maquoketa to reach the Sweet 16. This Main Street serves students and residents of Waverly as the commercial hub of the community.
#3 Charles City vs #7 Anamosa
Charles City defeated #14 Osage and #11 Independence to reach the Sweet 16. Charles City’s central business district features a healthy mix of historic and new buildings which enrich the character of this river-adjacent commercial district.
Anamosa’s Main Street beat #10 West Union and upset #2 McGregor to reach the Sweet 16 in the Northeast region. This Main Street is the cornerstone of a community most known for being home to the historic penitentiary a few blocks west.
#1 Pella vs #4 Oskaloosa
Home to the famous Tulip Festival, numerous Dutch bakeries and restaurants, and the home of Central College, the Pella Town Square is a favorite among people from around the State (and around the world). This predominantly Dutch-reformed town is true to its roots, and the Pella Town Square is the centerpiece of this community. Pella knocked off #16 Marengo and #9 Williamsburg en route to the Sweet 16.
Oskaloosa, a true rival of nearby Pella, knocked off #13 Tipton and #5 Centerville to reach this matchup with their neighboring foe. The Oskaloosa Town Square features a bandshell and the nearby Mahaska County Courthouse. Storefronts are also known to be completely covered in lights come Christmas-time.
#2 Albia vs #14 Mount Vernon
#2 Albia defeated #15 Keokuk and #7 Washington to reach the Sweet 16. Their town square has many preserved buildings from the 1890s in their original detail and form, making this one of the more popular small town squares in the state.
#14 Mount Vernon has been the Cinderella of this tournament, upsetting both #3 Fairfield and #11 Knoxville. Mount Vernon is the home of Iowa’s Cornell College, and the small yet vibrant community has numerous events on their main commercial strip, including Chalk the Walk above.