Two Sioux City Projects Receive Iowa Historic Preservation Awards
The State Historical Society of Iowa and the nonprofit group Preservation Iowa presented the state's highest awards for historic preservation Thursday, June 6, during the 2019 Preserve Iowa Summit in Newton. The State Historical Society, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, presented its annual Preservation Project of Merit Awards to historic properties in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Northwood, Sioux City and Waterloo. The awards recognize projects that exemplify the best practices of historic preservation, meet the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings, and use the State Historic Preservation and Cultural and Entertainment District Tax Credit Program. The list of this year's award recipients follows:
Judith A. McClure Award
Recognizes outstanding preservation of a residential property.
William H. Meek House, Des Moines
Built in Des Moines' Woodland Heights Historic District before the so-called "bungalow craze" of the 1910s, the William H. Meek House was on the verge of demolition when Rally Cap Properties began rehabilitation work on it in 2017. A failing foundation wall, water infiltration and general neglect had left the property in disrepair. Rally Cap's restoration included removing siding and restoring cedar clapboard and shakes; opening the front porch; rebuilding the north foundation wall with a brick ledge and exposed masonry; repairing double-hung windows, leaded glass built-ins and transom windows; refinishing hardwood floors; recreating trim profiles; installing traditional half-round gutters; and refinishing an antique claw-foot tub. The project's success has already spurred additional preservation work in the neighborhood by Rally Cap and private homeowners nearby.
Adrian D. Anderson Award
Recognizes outstanding historic preservation of a project having total qualified costs of $500,000 or less.
IOOF-Erickson Buildings, Northwood
The I.O.O.F.-Erickson building was built in 1896 and is the largest operating structure within the Central Avenue Historic District in Northwood, just a few miles from the Minnesota state line. It was designed by architect J.L. Rood of St. Paul, Minnesota, who also designed the Worth County Courthouse nearby. The rectangular two-story brick building is marked by two bays in the Italianate style, and its hollow tile brick was an innovation at the time. The IOOF half of the building was owned by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which rented the lower level for a department store and maintained offices and a ballroom on the second level. The Erickson half was owned by John A. Erickson. As a whole, the building was a primary retail hub for hardware, general goods, restaurants and other retail stores during the 20th century. By 2015, the building was abandoned and in derelict condition with a deteriorating roof. But after three years of rehabilitation, the building now hosts events in the restored ballroom and houses the popular Worth Brewing Co.
Margaret Keyes Award
Recognizes outstanding historic preservation of project having total qualified costs of more than $500,000.
Cedar Rapids Milk Condensing Building, Cedar Rapids
Built in 1887, the Cedar Rapids Milk Condensing Building is the oldest industrial architectural structure on the west side of the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids. It was built during an era of industrial expansion in Cedar Rapids, when many factories, processing plants and railroads spread along both banks of the river during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since then, the 27,000-square-foot building has had a tumultuous lifespan, particularly in the last 20 years when it passed through multiple owners and became a junkyard and a site for an annual haunted house. In 2008, the Cedar River spilled five feet of water inside the building, which was left vacant, neglected and uninhabitable. But in 2013, the city purchased it and hired Hobart Historic Restoration in 2016 to oversee the building's transformation.
William J. Wagner Award
Recognizes the historic preservation project that best exemplifies use of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation
John Deere C-2 Building, Waterloo
Waterloo's C-2 Building was built in 1947 as factory in a large complex for the world's largest tractor plant in the world, the John Deere Tractor company. Today, the six-story, 200,000-square-foot building is one of only three remaining original buildings from the former factory complex. This former factory was reborn in 2018 when a developer turned it into a hotel. One challenge of the rehabilitation was that the windows were too high to see out, so the architects raised the floor to allow hotel guests a better view and, simultaneously, hide the ductwork and wiring underfoot. The hotel, a Courtyard by Marriott, is an excellent example of adaptive reuse and provides a destination for business and family travelers. It also provides 120 jobs for the local workforce and houses a restaurant and bar.
The nonprofit group Preservation Iowa presented its Preservation At Its Best Awards in 10 categories during the Preserve Iowa Summit:
Cedar Rapids: Adaptive Use: Monroe School
Four Oaks and ASK Studio/AKAY Consulting transformed vacated Monroe Elementary School in Cedar Rapids into 19 multi-family apartments called Monroe Place. With its original footprint and many of architectural features still in place, the 1961 building's historic use is immediately apparent even now that it serves as modern affordable housing. This one-story, 24,000-square-foot building is a model for preserving a vacant school building with the use of state and federal historic tax credits.
Cherokee: Preservationist of the Year Award: John Snapp
John Snapp, secretary of the Cherokee Historic Preservation Commission, is actively involved in all aspects of his community's history. As a photographer, he has created museum-quality displays to raise awareness of and appreciation for historic properties. As a writer, he has helped Cherokee obtain grants for preservation. As a volunteer, his countless hours of work have inspired others to share their talents to save northwest Iowa’s treasured buildings.
Coon Rapids: Rural Preservation: Historic Garst Farm House
The Historic Garst Farm House, owned by Whiterock Conservancy, is a visible reminder of the agricultural innovations Roswell Garst introduced, which changed the course of farming in Iowa and the world. In 1959, during the height of the Cold War, Garst hosted Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at the Garst family farm. The visit not only helped open conversations about worldwide agricultural practices but also eased some of the tension of the Cold War. Under the guidance of RDG Planning & Design, the home was carefully restored to its 1959 condition.
Des Moines: Public Structure: Iowa State Capitol Dome
The iconic gold dome of the Iowa State Capitol has been one of the state’s most recognizable landmarks for more than 130 years. Over the course of its history, significant deterioration threatened the dome’s integrity. With funding from the Iowa Legislature, OPN Architects guided a project that involved replacing more than 12,000 interior bricks, building a barrier to protect the structure from moisture, restoring interior and exterior limestone, and building a monitoring system to assure the dome's future for decades to come. This project is a cause for statewide celebration.
Des Moines: Sustainability in Preservation: Fort Des Moines
Fort Des Moines is a symbol of Iowa’s civil right leadership. As the home of the first African American officer training program, in 1917, and the nation’s first Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, during World War II, the fort's buildings are visible reminders of Iowa’s progressive past. Blackbird Investments and James Spiller acquired four army barracks and two horse stables and converted them into 142 affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments. Green spaces with new native grasses and unharmed old trees, a trail system, and bio-retention cells make the site environmentally friendly. Bike racks and memberships in the nearby YMCA encourage residents to exercise and pursue healthy life choices. The project tapped into the largest source of tax credits in Iowa, featuring a unique blend of funding sources, including historic tax credits, low-income housing tax credits and enterprise zone tax credits, as well as incentives from the city of Des Moines.
Des Moines: Residential (Multi-Family): Harbach Lofts
The L. Harbach and Sons factory complex, consisting of two functionally related 5-story brick buildings separated by a paved courtyard, is a rare surviving warehouse-factory complex from early 20th century Des Moines. Kent Mauck Encore Properties, the current owner of the 1906 complex, rehabilitated the two buildings as competitive-rate housing with a hip, uptown feel to draw urban professionals to the revitalized downtown business district. The buildings include 103 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments; retail space; a theater room; and a fitness room. Funding came from a combination of bank financing, owner equity and a diverse array of state and federal tax credits for historic preservation, grayfield restoration and workforce housing. RDG Planning and Design created the plans for the stunning restoration.
Des Moines: Commercial Small: Daniels Brothers Super Service Station
The Daniels Brothers Super Service Station opened in 1929 as the third outlet for the Des Moines-based auto supply and service chain founded in 1919. This brick-and-stone-accented service station with Tudor Revival touches is an auto-row property described as "a department store for vehicles." Owner/developer RE3, architect Goche Inclusions and architectural historian Jennifer James worked together to restore the site's commercial spaces and develop residential units in the 90-year-old building. Preservation of this unique building type adds to the local heritage represented in the newly listed East Des Moines Commercial Historic District and saved the building from destruction.
Des Moines: Commercial Large: Wilkins Building
The 1909 Wilkins Department Store building was the first reinforced concrete building in Des Moines. In 1924 it was annexed to the newly constructed Younkers Building. Following Younkers' closure in the early 2000s, the building sat vacant for 10 years before a developer began rehabilitation. In 2014, a fire ravaged the Younkers building while the concrete Wilkins building, which the architect touted as fireproof, was damaged but remained intact. Blackbird Investments purchased the building and used state and federal historic tax credits, city development block grant funds, brownfield tax credits, and the Green Street program to help fund the preservation. The Wilkins Building now features four stories of 60 residential units (51 percent of which are affordable units) and 20,000 square feet of commercial space. The reinvigorated Wilkins Building now serves as a vital landmark for downtown Des Moines. The famous Younkers Tea Room on the sixth floor now serves as a premier event venue for groups of up to 430 people.
Sioux City: Special Projects: Woodbury County Courthouse Website
The Woodbury Court House in Sioux City is one of the finest examples of Prairie Architecture in the United States. It is a National Landmark and listed on the National Register. To commemorate the building’s 100th anniversary, the Woodbury County Supervisors appointed a committee to plan a week-long celebration in order to encourage locals and out-of-towners to tour the property. The committee developed an eye-catching website that depicts not only the building’s beauty but also the rich architectural history of Prairie School buildings. The Courthouse Foundation funded the project.
Sioux City: Community Effort: Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District and Railroad Museum
The Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District in Sioux City is a 30-acre site that contains surviving structures, foundations, buildings, and a rail yard from the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad shops. The district is home to one of seven surviving roundhouse terminal landscapes in the nation. After being abandoned by the railroad in 1980, the district became a junkyard for farm equipment. Twenty-five years ago, there was little indication of the area’s historic significance, but the Siouxland Historic Railroad Association acquired the property in 1995 and began to celebrate the district's long-ignored historical assets. During the past 10 years, more than 160,000 volunteer hours helped transform the district and implement many educational programs to keep the history of the rail industry in Iowa alive.
The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. More information about Iowa's historic properties and locations are available on the Iowa Culture app or iowaculture.gov.