Downtown Building Listed as 2019 Endangered Property
A historic building in downtown Sioux City is included in Preservation Iowa’s 2019 Most Endangered Properties list. The Wetmore Building, located at 615 Douglas Street, has been unoccupied since 2006 and is suffering from water damage and deferred maintenance. Placed on the Red Tag/Placard List in 2017 by the city’s Inspections Department due to numerous code and safety violations, the building may be razed if action isn’t taken to correct the issues cited.
Built between 1916 and 1918, the three-story structure was designed as a motor-mart for automobile dealership owner Harry A. Wetmore. The Wetmore Automobile Agency sold Chalmers and Saxon automobiles as well as Waterloo Boy farm tractors. Wetmore began manufacturing his own farm tractors in the building in 1918 that won several plowing competitions, including setting a world’s record at a 1920 competition held in Craig, Iowa. More recently, the building was occupied by Standard Office Supply.
The adjacent building to the north at 625 Douglas Street also holds a rich history. Constructed in 1909, the building was home to the first Sioux City Auditorium. The building was purchased and operated by the American Legion Post 64 as the Tomba Ballroom and, most recently, as the broadcast studios for TV station KCAU. LAMB Arts Regional Theatre has announced plans to turn the building into a performing arts center to serve as the new home for the theatre. The restored building, an $11.5 million project, will include a 250-seat thrust theatre, a 120-seat studio theatre and a smaller cabaret-style theatre. LAMB recently received a $100,000 grant from Missouri River Historic Development for asbestos abatement, which is nearly complete.
Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered Property program began in 1995 to educate Iowans about the special buildings and historic sites that are slowly and gradually slipping away. In the past 20+ years, Preservation Iowa has designated over 150 homes, churches, archeological sites, landscapes, commercial buildings and a variety of other properties.
The Most Endangered Properties program helps to bring the public’s attention to the risks to a designated historic property and introduces owners of an endangered property to preservation advocacy and resources that can help preserve their historic property. Additionally, there have been interest groups who have been able to use the designation as a mechanism to leverage other financial resources to restore and preserve properties. More information about the Most Endangered Program can be found by visiting www.preservationiowa.org or by contacting Preservation Iowa at firstname.lastname@example.org.