The Red Oak Downtown Historic District encompasses most of the downtown area where the rolling hills of this area flatten between State Highway 48 and Red Oak Creek, a tributary of the East Nishnabotna River. Lining all four sides of Fountain Square, the main commercial center of Red Oak consists of two, and three story attached two-part commercial blocks that stretch onto side streets in all directions, giving way to freestanding buildings at the edges of the District. A second square, upon which is centered the Montgomery County Courthouse, is located two blocks west of Fountain Square. Just over 35 percent of the buildings in the District were constructed before 1900. Many early buildings exhibit Italianate, Queen Anne, Romanesque and Classical Revival detailing, while later buildings exhibit a more vernacular form, with Brick Front buildings representing the most common building type. A significant number of these buildings exhibit first floor storefront alterations from the Mid-Twentieth Century, physically illustrating their connection to economic growth after World War II.
In January of 1927, R.D. Morris of the Red Oak Park Board suggested that the dilapidated band stand in the center of the Square should be replaced with something more attractive. The idea was hit upon to create a war memorial for the soldiers of Montgomery County. A committee was formed and was headed by Mrs. A. M. Hawkins and Mrs. O.A. Milner. The families of the soldiers lost in the War raised the money with most of the business community joining in. Originally Fountain Square Park was to be Memorial Park, but we’re not sure where that got lost along the way.
A public appeal went out to local farmers, when coming to town bring a couple of stones and leave them in the Park at a designated spot. Then the Boy Scouts got involved, and three teams of Scouts started collecting stones. Farmers donated the use of wagons to haul the stones and the City put up a prize of free season passes for the winning team of Scouts.
The original plan was to make the Fountain thirty feet across and the outer rim three feet tall; it was later changed to twenty-four feet across and two feet high with a center column spray. It also called for sprays dedicated for each of those who gave their lives during the War, and those who had passed since the War ended was represented by the center column.
This project is a testimony to all those brave men and women from Montgomery County who gave EVERYTHING in the fight for Freedom.
The newly placed Freedom Rock is located in the NE quadrant of Historic Fountain Square Park in downtown Red Oak. It is a fitting place, along with the monuments honoring those who died in WW I, WW II, Korea and Viet Nam from Montgomery County. Those monuments honor the entire county as will the Montgomery County Freedom Rock.
Please join the Montgomery County Court of Honor, American Legion Post 67, and VFW Post 2265 in raising the funds needed to complete the project.
Donations can be directed through the Heritage Foundation, to the Freedom Rock Fund. Orders are being taken for commemorative brick pavers to be placed near the Freedom Rock in Fountain Square Park. 4×8 bricks are $100 and 8×8 bricks are $250.
Stop by the Red Oak Chamber to pick-up a donation brochure, or click here to download a printable version.
Click on each marker to learn more about each historic location downtown; when a building was built, its historical name, the architect, the style, and more.