View from the street
The planning process for the original UUFA building began in 1959. The building was designed by architect Thor Bjornstad and architectural engineer Paul Lilly, based on the round forms found in an African village, and dedicated in 1970. Up to that time, the Fellowship had used rented space on the ISU campus.
Because of a lack of funds, the main meeting hall was not built at that time. For 22 years, services were held in the foyer (now called the Fireside Room).
A closer view
Planning for a major expansion and renovation began in 1988. The addition was designed by architects Michael Underhill, David Heymann and Laura Miller, with much feedback from the congregation; the architects received an honor award from the American Institute of Architects for their efforts. The new Fellowship Hall was dedicated in 1992.
After years of planning, in November 2002, the congregation approved a fundraising campaign for another major building addition and renovation. In January 2004, we began to occupy the expanded building wing and renovated spaces.
The Carmon Slater Quilts
Carmon Slater with quilt
A main feature of our meeting hall is the set of three large quilts made by Carmon Slater, a textile artist and former member now living in Colorado.
The fabric was donated by Fellowship members; much of it carries important personal memories. The images on the quilts represent Unitarian Universalist symbols and scenes from Fellowship history.
The Dustin Berger Memorial Library
By Kay Berger
On December 27, 1976, our lives were changed forever. As our family was journeying home from Lincoln, Nebraska, after having spent Christmas with family, a flatbed truck ahead of us stopped in the center lane of I-80 as we were passing Omaha at 72nd Street and backed up to pick up some lumber that had fallen off. Our little Ford van hit the back of the truck, fatally injuring 8-year-old Dusty and severely injuring Randy, age 13; Angie, age 16; and both my husband, Roger, and me. We were taken in three ambulances to Bergan Mercy Hospital in Omaha, where we four survivors spent almost eight weeks getting our broken bodies put back together. Our spirits were shattered.
Our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship organized immediately and helped us live through this terrible ordeal. The Fellowship was small then; maybe 35 attended on a good Sunday. People, whom many of the present congregation do not know, sustained our household here in Ames. They brought the youth group, called the FROGS (Friendly Religious Organized Group), to visit. Many made the drive through the winter cold and snow to visit us, bringing flowers and letters and hope and support and love. They comforted our family from Lincoln who came to the hospital every day. The Unitarians and the people in the community of Ames and Gilbert took care of everything.
When we were finally discharged from Bergan Mercy Hospital, three station wagons driven by three people from our Fellowship came for us and drove us home. Because none of us was able to care for ourselves, the help for us continued for the next five weeks with daily meals brought to us and our full-time family caretakers. We are forever grateful for the loving care so freely given.
Dusty’s memorial service was held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, led by Susan Franzen. All the people who cared and loved our family came to say goodbye to Dusty. His ashes are in a box buried under the arm of my father, Lowell Jackson, who died in 1992. The Dustin Berger Memorial Library became Dusty’s memorial home.
A room upstairs, now unrecognizable, became the first Dustin Berger Memorial Library. A desk and shelves were built, and books were purchased and checked out. Dusty Was My Friend was written by Andrea Clardy and dedicated to his memory. A copy was placed in the Ames Public Library. The cozy little room was used by the RE children for their service before class began. It soon became the RE directors office. The congregation grew, and more space was needed. The Dustin Berger Memorial Library was then moved to the Tower Room in the late 1980s. We purchased metal shelves for books and other items and furnished the room with couches and chairs and a coffee table. Dusty’s charcoal picture done by Bill Zimmerman hung on the wall, and a nice brass plaque was placed on the outside door. Soon the RE desk and metal storage cabinets moved in. File cabinets, media equipment and a lot of miscellaneous stuff were stored. It was used for the high school classroom. The room was mainly used as a lounge and meeting room. It lost all resemblance to the original memorial library.
In 2003, a capital campaign was proposed for remodeling and expanding our Fellowship. The task so carefully planned and executed is now accomplished. The congregation, minister, RE program, and administration have grown and expanded into new and fresh space. The Dustin Berger Memorial Library is beautiful, spacious, and treasured as it matures into a functioning facility. A letter dated February 2003 from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship president and board of directors reassured us that the library would be maintained as a dignified, designated library space.
It is our hope that intellectual and spiritual pursuits will have a home in this library. New and exciting books will be ordered and read. Children and adults will find comfort in the peaceful atmosphere for using appropriate media, perusing and checking out books, and perhaps looking up some history in the current archive collection. Tables and chairs will invite you to sit down and read or study. An endowment will be in place to maintain and continue the functioning of the library for the future.
The Dustin Berger Memorial Library is a tribute to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames, to those who helped our family so very much, and to those who continue to uphold the same caring tradition of our community.