The Foxden Press is a letterpress print shop at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. It is the dream child of three professors from the Department of English and Creative Writing: Leslie Hankins, Michelle Mouton, and Kirilka (Katy) Stavreva. Located on the ground floor of the historic Van Etten-Lacey House, it opened its doors to the public in the fall of 2014, after years of planning, fundraising, networking, and exploring the “black art” of letterpress printing and other book arts.
Its name, “Foxden,” comes from the nickname of the building which houses the press. The house was first owned by Winifred Van Etten, an English professor at Cornell College from 1928 to 1934 and again from 1937 to 1968. It was built with proceeds from her award-winning novel I Am the Fox, published in 1936. Mt. Vernon friends started calling her house the Foxden. Eighty years later, we pay tribute to her literary talent with Foxden Press.
The press embodies the English Department’s historical dedication to literary traditions and book arts. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the Department’s Hillside Press regularly produced and printed literary chapbooks and magazines. It was during a renovation of South Hall, the Department’s home, in the 1980s, that the print shop was dismantled and sold off.
Foxden Press revitalizes Cornell College’s tradition of publishing, fosters experiential learning in book history and book arts, and integrates letterpress printing craft with new printing technologies and digital media.
The press is an independent entity.
We print on a Washington iron hand press (serial number 612) manufactured in 1876 by the Cincinnati Type Foundry, and generously donated to Cornell College by The University of Iowa Center for the Book.
Novelist, book artist, and press whisperer Lauren Faulkenberry (in the photograph on the left) was instrumental in facilitating the acquisition of our iron hand press and in setting it up.
The history of our treasured press is captured on a brass plaque, which reads:
This Washington hand press, symbol of nineteenth century journalism, was presented to the School of Journalism, State University of Iowa, 1954, by John E. Fueling in honor of his father E. J. Fueling of the New Hampton Tribune. This press was used almost constantly in the office of the Wheatland Gazette for a period of 55 years after that paper’s founding in 1888 by the late F. With. Button.