Firefly Creek Ranch: Space for the arts in Northwest Iowa

Firefly Creek Ranch A view from the Firefly Creek Ranch in Guthrie County, about an hour from Des Moines.

Firefly Creek Ranch was created to be a place visitors can recharge their batteries.

And after restoring an abandoned retirement community center and acquiring 31 acres of land, Brenda Rose may need a new battery.

Rose is the founder and CEO Of Firefly Creek Ranch—a nonprofit organization in Northwest Iowa—that will use its land as a community for the arts and outdoors.

Rose—who lives in Des Moines but has family from the area—said three years ago she found out the Guthrie County Home had closed and had been sitting empty for two years.

“This facility had $750,000 worth of improvements,” Rose explains. “All it needed was some cleaning, love and somebody to bring a plan back to it.”

That plan was to turn that old home into the Firefly Creek Ranch.

“We can make this a viable business where people come use the community center, participate in art, reunions, business meetings, art retreats,” Rose says. “There are great art communities in the Panora, Guthrie, Perry, Stuart, Jefferson areas.”

Firefly Creek Ranch
What was known as the Guthrie County Home is being turned into the Firefly Creek Ranch.

Healing from the arts

Pairing the different arts activities with the scenic views is what Rose loves about the are.

And being an hour drive from Des Moines, it can be an opportunity to, “unplug.”

“I tell people you’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can take care of other people,” Rose says.

Then she wants to make Firefly Creek Ranch affordable.

“I like being around artists that you can connect with,” Rose said. “Sometimes people have such a hyper-inflated price on their art that you can’t really plan to bring it home and enjoy. You can just look at it for the moment.”

Rose said she’d like to host an art fair with vendors at a barn on the property or classes.

How do you get 31 acres?

Rose was able to buy the 31-acre property as-is for $1 from Guthrie County after proposing a plan for Firefly Creek Ranch.

“They were looking for somebody to take over but they wanted somebody who had a plan for the building. So we were looking at senior housing. But my vision was for a more vibrant group of people.”

Keeping with the idea of helping others, Rose believes using the arts can be healing of a different form.

“This place could be that,” she says. “It’s not on the beaten path but it’s worth taking the time to get off the path.”