- Local Historic Register
The Wedel House at 2427 N College Ave in North Newton became the first property listed on the Local Register in 2000; nominated for its identification with P. J. and Waldo Wedel.
The home was built by P. J. Wedel in 1906 in the National Folk style. It features Tuscan porch columns and fish scale shingles. P. J. Wedel was involved with Bethel College for 49 years (1902-1951), serving as a professor of science, librarian, curator of the museum, and Registrar. Personal funds from Wedel, combined with a match amount from the college, were used to start the physics lab at Bethel. Wedel was also instrumental in the official forming of the school’s museum, and subsequently was appointed as the first curator. Three years after his death in 1951, Wedel’s final contribution to the college was published, The Story of Bethel College, a comprehensive history of the school from the time leading to its inception through 1948.
P. J. Wedel’s son, Waldo R. Wedel, also significantly contributed to North Newton, and the nation as a whole. Eventually to become known as “the father of Plains Archeology,” Waldo Wedel grew up in the house at 2427 N College Avenue. Born in 1908, Wedel left the area at the age of 20 to further his education. Described as “Plains archeology’s pre-eminent scholar…Wedel’s publications, spanning six decades, helped define and shape research in Plains prehistory, both in descriptive and theoretical terms.” In textbooks, “his publications are typically cited as the leading general authority on Plains prehistory…To a large degree, Wedel has been the primary source for studying the history of the plains archeology…In many ways, twentieth century Plains archeology has been synonymous with the name Waldo R. Wedel.” The life-long interest in prehistory began when Wedel was in grade school and junior high in Newton. The first Indian relics he found were along Sand Creek about one-half mile from his childhood home.
The included image is of the Wedel House in 1938, courtesy of the Mennonite Library & Archives, North Newton.