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A passion for education, opposition to slavery, and yearning for a moral life led Josiah B. Grinnell and his band of like-minded New Englanders to establish a town and a college on the Iowa prairie in 1854. Over the years, a remarkable number of dreamers and doers from all walks of life have emerged from Grinnell, including pioneer aviator Billy Robinson; Harry Hopkins, advisor to Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt; and Robert Noyce, cofounder of Intel Corporation. Today, Grinnell is a distinctive blend of urban and rural culture that has been marked by the idealism of its beginnings, molded by the surrounding agricultural economy, and shaped by prestigious Grinnell College. Proudly known as the "Jewel of the Prairie," Grinnell is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places with two historic districts and 15 individual buildings. The Merchants National Bank designed by Louis Sullivan is a National Historic Landmark.

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