Orange City is very proud of its Dutch Heritage. Even our name, “Orange City”, is a direct reference to the Dutch ruling family, The House of Orange. Early Dutch immigrants to the area were also proud of their heritage and wanted to maintain many of the customs, culture, and architecture of the “Old Country”.
Many of the first buildings in Orange City were constructed to resemble buildings from different Dutch provinces. Those immigrants built what they remembered from their ancestral homeland. Since Holland is much older than the United States, many buildings in Holland were constructed in the 1700’s and 1800’s. While this style of construction is distinct, regional variations exist based upon different provinces in Holland. Color schemes, type of shutters, roof gable styles, and other building amenities all combine to make Old World “Dutch” buildings different from more modern styles of architecture. The unique nature of this architecture provides support to the Dutch heritage that is Orange City, Iowa.
Trying to capitalize on Orange City’s unique heritage, the City Council in the mid-1980’s searched for ways to advertise and market our Dutch culture and the Dutch experience. The City’s annual May Tulip Festival highlights our heritage and draws many visitors. To support this celebration of ethnic heritage, the Council instituted a Dutch Storefront Program.
This program requires the building front to have a uniquely “Dutch” style of architecture in the downtown business district and in other areas zoned commercial. Beginning with 3 projects in 1987, the program has assisted over 50 building owners since its inception. All sizes and styles of building fronts have been included. Businesses such as restaurants, motels, retail stores, and plumbing or electrical contractors have all participated in the Dutch Storefront Program.
City Council approved matching funds for storefront renovation has ranged in amounts of up $60,000. Total City investment in the Dutch Storefront Program is over $700,000.
Buildings completed under the Dutch Storefront Program have proven to be popular attractions with visitors to our annual Tulip Festival. In 2007 and 2008, the City Council enhanced the downtown Dutch architectural experience by constructing and renovating buildings in our Windmill Park. Dutch architectural styles were used to design the new farmer’s market building and renovate the front of the band shell.
For more information or help in the design and approval process, contact City Hall. Code Enforcement Officer, Kurt Frederes is the City liaison between owners, the Review Committee, and the City Council.