Preservation Iowa’s 2012 Most Endangered Buildings: Nelson Brothers Hardware Store (Orient, Adair County)
The Nelson Brothers Hardware Store building was built in 1902, originally C.I. Wiley Hardware. From there, the building was a constant mainstay of Orient’s commercial district. The building is still known today by the small, rural community as Nelson Brothers Hardware Store–which was operated from the building for over 50 years–from 1940-1996. In its earlier life, it also served as a primary grocery store for the town: Butler Grocery from 1923-1932 and Jack Holmes Grocery from 1932-1940. The brick building is one of only a handful of historic structures remaining in Orient that still retains many of its original architectural features.
The building is currently unoccupied, and has been since 1996, leaving it in need of significant repairs. It does appear to be structurally sound, but the roof is in need of immediate replacement, as are several broken windows. Inadequate maintenance and neglect of past owners is a threat. The building has no heat or air-conditioning. Additionally, the roof has several major leaks that threaten the structural integrity of the building. Several windows are also broken. This leaves the building prone to primarily natural threats, including water damage, damage as a result of high winds. Birds and other animals have access to the interior of the building through these openings, which can result in additional damage.
Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered Property program was started in 1995 and implemented to educate Iowans about the special buildings and historic sites that are slowly and gradually slipping away from us. Since the initiative’s beginning, Preservation Iowa has designated over 140 of Iowa’s endangered sites, churches, homes, and commercial buildings.
The full list of Preservation Iowa’s 2012 Most Endangered Properties includes: