Who remembers the fun early 1970s movie “Cold Turkey” starring Dick Van Dyke and Tom Poston. It was Norman Lear’s very first film ever and it was shot almost entirely on location in the little town of Greenfield, Iowa.
I was reminded of the comedy after visiting Greenfield and spending the night at the community’s only hotel, aptly named The Hotel Greenfield. It’s about a half block from the town square featured in many scenes in “Cold Turkey.”
Like many rural communities, Greenfield’s downtown business district fell on hard times in the 80s, and the hotel along with it. For a while, it wasn’t much more than a flop house, then it closed entirely.
National Register of Historic Places
Originally built in the 1920s with 32 rooms, The Hotel Greenfield is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it has 20 spacious rooms on two floors – sorry, no elevator – and is furnished with lovely antiques. Some of the light fixtures are original, as is much of the woodwork, stained glass and the plaster.
Two of the rooms are suites with a private porch that I could live in quite comfortably. The adjacent restaurant, Olive Branch, serves a mighty fine pork tenderloin and a stack of onion rings that will make it worth driving to Iowa for.
Community-Owned Boutique Hotel
What makes the renovation of the Hotel Greenfield so cool is that it wasn’t a big corporation or Daddy Warbucks money bags who saw this as an opportunity to make some money. Instead, about 100 people in Greenfield and surrounding communities decided this little town needed a hotel again. So, investing as little $250 each, they raised enough money to bring this beautiful hotel back to life.
Just a little trivia: Bernie Sanders stayed here in January 2016 during his campaign for president.
So why should you bother to go to Greensfield Iowa, other than a love for old Dick van Dyke movies and boutique hotels? Well, there’s a lovely community arts center around the corner adjacent to an art gallery, all just a few minutes off of I-80 that dissects Iowa from river to river.
Things to Do in Iowa
Based in Greenfield, you’re about 25 minutes from the Bridges of Madison County and John Wayne’s Birthplace in Winterset, and about 20 minutes from Johnny Carson’s birthplace in Corning. Plus, there are some unexpected museums, community theatres, ice cream parlors, gardens and antique stores. There’s a sense of community and pride in this region that makes things happen, like re-opening a community treasure like the Greenfield Hotel.
I’m pretty sure those are among the reasons Norman Lear fell in love with Greenfield when he was scouting locations for his first and some say funniest movie ever.