Preservation Iowa Newsletter – Spring 2016

President’s Greeting

This year has been in very important year for preservation in the State of Iowa. Many changes have been implemented by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs specifically in the State Historic Preservation Office. Some of these changes have been welcome and represent major improvement over the previous practices. Among those Preservation Iowa has supported is the implementation of a pre-development meeting which helps the Department assess the viability of the project and its preparedness to proceed and therefore its eligibility for a commitment of historic tax credits from the state historic tax credit program.

The State historic hreservation tax credit program has also been under a tremendous stress in its handling by the Iowa Department of Revenue. Developers recently have found themselves facing changing rules and shifting sands with regard to expectations of the State historic tax credit program. While all of the parties involved with the State government have had the best of intentions, the result has created an uncertainty in the handling of state tax credits which does not encourage preservation of historic structures and does not encourage the use of the state historic tax credit by the development community.

Recently, legislation has passed both the House and the Senate which intends to clarify, and in some respects, simplify the State historic tax credit program, its rules, procedures and processes. Projects will still go through the standard Part 1 analysis and disposition, Part 1.5 preparedness meeting, Part 2 analysis and disposition, then there’s the formal registration of Part 2B, and lastly as Part 3 with the submission of qualified rehabilitation expenses (QREs) or costs.

As I understand the new legislation, this last phase will be handled by the Iowa Department of Economic Development as opposed to the Iowa Department Revenue. The preservation community needs to be aware of these changes and can still contribute to the legislative and rulemaking process by submitting comments for the new administrative rules and regulations attendant with the legislation just passed. For those of you who are interested in more details regarding the legislation it can be found at Senate file 2443.

Preservation Iowa will be watching the implementation of these new rules specifically as regards to funding of smaller projects and individual properties which need rehabilitation but may not be of great interest from and economic development perspective, -projects specifically including personal residences.

There have been a number of exciting examples of the implementation and use of historic preservation tax credits for the redevelopment of properties large and small throughout the State of Iowa. We are excited that the legislative bodies have embraced the program, continued to fund it at a significant level, and with this legislation have attempted to clarify and simplify the use of those credits. Please contact your Legislator and voice your support of this legislation and thank them for their support of preservation in the State of Iowa.

As this newsletter will indicate, Preservation Iowa continues in its role as an advocate for preservation throughout the State of Iowa. We are excited about the various projects that have been undertaken throughout the last twelve months and we are preparing already to recognize some of those projects through our Preservation at its Best Award at the annual Preservation Summit scheduled for this fall. Please keep an eye out for projects in your community which you think should be recognized by Preservation Iowa for their contribution to preservation in the State of Iowa.

Also, a special thank you goes out to Steve Wilke-Shapiro and to the committee who worked so diligently on the preparation of our new and improved website for Preservation Iowa. We know all of our members and many interested parties in the community will benefit greatly by having access to a much more thorough website with links to other interesting sites and we are excited that this is a linchpin of our outreach efforts in 2016 has been vastly improved.

2016 Preservation Showcase:
“Preserving Our History, Celebrating Our Best”

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA –The City of Cedar Rapids and the Historic Preservation Commission invite the community to participate in the 2016 Preservation Showcase on Saturday, May 7, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the MedQuarter district. Activities will include seminars, hands-on demonstrations, bus tours and the Preservation Award Ceremony at 6:00 p.m. to acknowledge the local efforts made by citizens and organizations in advancing historic preservation.
Saturday, May 7 Activities:

  • Preservation Seminars: Seminars may be eligible for continuing education credits. All seminars will take place at the Masonic Library, located at 813 1st Avenue SE
    • 9:00 a.m. Adaptive Re-Use of Historic Properties
    • 11:30 a.m. Using Historic Tax Credits to Rehabilitate Properties
    • 1:30 p.m. Green Historic Preservation:
  • Hands-on demonstration by restoration professionals to take place on the History Center’s lawn, located at 800 2nd Avenue SE. 2:45 p.m.
  • Bus Tours with Cedar Rapids’ Historian Mark Stoffer Hunter. Buses will depart in front of the History Center’s new location at 800 2nd Avenue SE.
    • 10:15 a.m. Repurposing Historic Buildings Bus Tour
    • 11:30 a.m. Houses on the Move Bus Tour
    • 2:45 p.m. Re-purposing Historic Buildings Bus Tour
    • 4:00 p.m. Houses on the Move Bus Tour
  • Kids Activities, including a scavenger hunt, a chalk the walk and coloring
  • Overalls All Over – Grant Wood Exhibition at the Grant Wood Studio
  • Learn about your past with “Who Do You Think You Are?” special event hosted by the Genealogical Society
  • Awards for Excellence in Preservation to take place at the Masonic Library, located at 813 1st Avenue SE.
    • Awards Reception, 5 p.m.
    • Awards Presentation, 6 p.m.
  • Preservation Awards: The highlight of the day’s activities will be the presentation of the Preservation Awards. In all, 13 awards will be presented to residents and organizations who are being recognized for historic preservation. Awards will be given out in the following categories:
    • Residential Rehabilitation in the 2nd & 3rd Ave Historic District
    • Residential Rehabilitation in the Redmond Park-Grand  Ave Historic District
    • Residential Paint Color Scheme in the 2nd & 3rd Ave Historic District
    • Residential Paint Color Scheme in the Redmond Park-Grand  Ave Historic District
    • Exterior Restoration for Residential
    • Exterior Restoration for Mixed-Use/Commercial
    • Adaptive Re-Use
    • Project Excellence
    • Stewardship

The May 7 celebration is part of the national efforts to spotlight grassroots preservation efforts during the month of May, which has been designated as National Preservation Month by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Please visit the Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission website for more information: www.CityofCR.com/HPC.

Preservation Success

Friends of Historic Preservation in Iowa City has been in the news lately with some preservation success stories and productive collaborations.

The first success was the salvage and reuse of historical materials from the University of Iowa’s Women’s Resource & Action Center, or WRAC. WRAC, previously housed in an 1890’s era Iowa City home, was recently demolished by the University to make green space. Before demolition, the University permitted Friends of Historic Preservation to salvage doors, windows and a beautiful hand-crafted stair railing. The salvaged materials were the same age and style as the Frankie House in Cedar Rapids. The Frankie House, an in-progress rehabilitation effort lead by Save CR Heritage, was able to reuse the salvaged materials. The collaboration between the University of Iowa, Friends of Historic Preservation and Save CR Heritage was a success in historic preservation collaboration. While preservation of historic buildings is always a primary objective, this next-best option kept valuable materials out of the landfill and helped restore a home.

The second success involves moving a Queen Anne-style home in Iowa City in order to prevent its demolition. The home, originally scheduled to be demolished for development, will be moved about two blocks from it’s current location into the College Green Historic District. The lot in the historic district became available when lightening destroyed an historic home on that spot late late year. The house that burned and the house to be moved are similar in size and style and the relocated house should contribute nicely to the established historic district. While the house was donated to Friends of Historic Preservation by the developer, the project–including purchasing the lot, pouring new foundations and moving–will cost the organization about $200,000. The money will come from a loan taken out, money saved up by the group, and donations from the community.

Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines Review & Public Comment Deadline

The National Park Service is in the process of updating the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring & Reconstructing Historic Buildings. You have an opportunity to comment. The revised documents are at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/treatment When you go to this website, you’ll see the revised documents at the bottom of the page. Your comments must be submitted online, or by clicking the button below. The comment period deadline is April 29, 2016.

The updated guidelines follow the same outline and format as the prior version. The guidelines are meant to be general and do not address specific or case-specific technical issues. The text has been edited for better clarity, consistency, and readability. The main goal of the update was to ensure that that the guidelines are inclusive of 20th century building types, materials, systems and technologies — so the changes are mostly additive in nature. There is no change from the prior text in its approach to applying the Standards to individual materials, features and spaces.

State Nominations Review Committee June 2016 Meeting

The State Nominations Review Committee will hold their June 2016 meeting in Wilton, Iowa. At that meeting, the committee will consider nominations for a variety of properties including the Public School in Coggon, the Red Oak Downtown Historic District, and the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Combination Depot in Decorah. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at:Wilton City Hall104 East 4th Street. The meeting begins at 9:15am.  More information is available on the state website.

The 30th annual Iowa Downtown Conference
will be held August 2 – 4 in Mason City
 

The conference will include educational plenary and breakout sessions focusing on downtown revitalization, field sessions, tours, an exhibit hall and a number of networking activities.

The Iowa Downtown Conference is brought to you by the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Iowa Downtown Resource Center, in partnership with Main Street Mason City and Visit Mason City.
Online registration and additional information is available at www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/downtown

Questions? 515.725.3075 or terry.buschkamp@iowa.gov

2016 Preserve Iowa Summit


The Preserve Iowa Summit is the premier statewide annual conference for professionals and volunteers involved in historic preservation in Iowa. 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act which has helped foster the strong preservation movement we enjoy today. Come to Davenport, Iowa to learn, celebrate, and network!

We are pleased to announce that our keynote speaker will be Greg Werkheiser of Preservation50.

Who should attend?

  • Historic property owners
  • Members of historic preservation commissions
  • Historic preservation, planning, interior design and architecture students
  • Main Street staff and board members
  • Preservation professionals, consultants and enthusiasts
  • Planning professionals
  • Local government officials
  • Community leaders and civic organizations
  • Architects
  • Citizens interested in their community’s quality of life

The Summit is a coordinated effort of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office, the City of Davenport, the Davenport Historic Preservation Commission and Preservation Iowa. It is funded in part with Federal funds from the National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior.

For more information, contact Paula Mohr at paula.mohr@iowa.gov .  Details will be posted at www.preserveiowasummit.org

Final Remarks

Preservation Iowa is proud to serve the statewide preservationists of Iowa. We are excited to offer business professionals a great way of marketing their historic business services through the new Preservation Iowa Business Directory. This summer will highlight some important events with the Iowa Main Street Conference, the Preserve Iowa Summit, preparation of the Preservation at its Best Nominations, and other preservation initiatives. Our organization would love to hear more from local Iowa preservation commissions and individuals to hear about your efforts and concerns during 2016. We are happy to partner with the preservation community, acknowledge, showcase, advocate, and equip preservation efforts from across Iowa. We appreciate you for being an important part of our preservation vision in Iowa.

Keep up the great work fellow Preservationist,

Kevin J. Kuckelman, President
Preservation Iowa

Seeking Everett Dodds Designed Homes

Everett Dodds Plan Booklet CoverOur neighbors to the west are looking for some help in identifying houses designed by an Omaha architect Everett Dodds and they need your help!  Dodds published house plans in the Omaha Bee and the Omaha World Herald.  Around 1914 he had the Murphy Calendar Company in Red Oak, Iowa publish a catalogue of his house plans available for purchase via mail order.

Here is a link to the write-up for the project and you can see a copy of Dodds’ house catalogue at : http://www.blog-nebraskahistory.org/2016/04/do-you-have-a-dodds-pattern-book-house-in-your-neighborhood/

If you think you have an example of a Dodds house in your town, please send a thumbnail photo of the home, its model name from Dodds’ book, and its full address to Jennifer Honebrink at jhonebrink@alleypoyner.com.

Already, a house has been identified in Woodbine, Iowa….appropriately called the “Woodbine”model!

Jennifer  will collect the findings and results will be posted in early June on the Preservation Association of Lincoln, Restoration Exchange Omaha, and Nebraska State Historical Society web sites.

Historic Tax Credit Changes Pass IA House

Historic Tax Credit bill passes House

[Updated: 4/22/2016]

Info below from the Iowa Bankers Association, weekly update:

Historic tax credit bill passes Iowa Senate committee

HF 2443 passed the Iowa Senate week with an unfavorable amendment. The bill helps deal with several Department of Economic Development programs including important changes to the Historic Tax Credit program. Due to recent interpretations of the law by the Iowa Department of Revenue, new historic projects have been stalled and several projects that are in process have been put into jeopardy. The Iowa Legislature has long been a proponent of the Historic Tax Credit program and the House-passed bill helped ensure both the ongoing usability and integrity of the program. The Senate amendment, however, institutes a three-year recapture period if the investor (which is often a bank) participates in both state and federal tax credits on any particular project. The end result is that investors will likely purchase state credits or the federal credits, but not both, which increases legal costs for developers and reduces the fair market value of the credit to the state. The bill must now go back to the House where the Senate amendment will likely be accepted. The balance of the bill still contains favorable language as it relates to the Historic Tax Credit program but the Senate amendment makes the program more costly and less efficient for all participants.

Summary of HF 2443:

Inserts Economic Development Authority into Program:

  • Transfers administrative oversight of the financial portion of the historic preservation tax credits to Economic Development Authority. 

Clarification of Refundability and Carryforward:

  • This clarification is for a tax credit claimed by an eligible taxpayer or transferee for qualified rehabilitation projects with agreements entered into on or after July 1, 2014.
  • A taxpayer includes an eligible taxpayer or a person transferred a tax credit certificate pursuant to 404A.2(2A).
  • A credit in excess of taxpayers tax liability for the tax year may be refunded or credited to the taxpayers tax liability for the following 5 years or until depleted.

Inserts predictability at registration:

  • After registering the qualified rehabilitation project, the authority shall notify the eligible taxpayer of successful registration under the program within a period of time established by rule. 

Removes reference to audit from 404A.3(5) Examination and audit of project

Implementation date shifts from July 1, 2016 to August 15, 2016

  • This allows for the Department of Cultural Affairs to distribute reallocated credits that were not being used before the new rules are drafted.

Rewrites Recapture and Repayment Risk for Investors:  

  • If an eligible taxpayer receives a tax credit certificate by way of a Prohibited Activity the eligible taxpayer is liable for repayment of the tax credit.  
  • A transferee is subject to liability, revocation, and repayment if the transferee had implied notice or express notice of the prohibited activity or other claim or defense against the tax credits.
  • Includes Qualifying Transferee as a safe harbor and defines an associated transferee as an owner, member, shareholder or partner who owns and controls the eligible taxpayer and defines control for purposes of this definition.

SAVED: Egloff House, Mason City

The William Egloff House in Mason City was damaged in a flood and in danger of demolition

The William Egloff House in Mason City was damaged in a flood and in danger of demolition

Preservation Iowa’s 2012 Most Endangered Buildings: Egloff House (Mason City, Cerro Gordo County)

Update: August 2015, the house was moved to a new location, ready for rehabilitation.  More photos of the move here.

The Egloff House is associated with two of the more important families in the medical history of Mason City. Dr. William Egloff, the father of William C. Egloff who built the house, was born in Cedar Falls, Iowa in 1863 and moved to Mason City where he attended local schools until college and medical school. He later moved back to Mason City where he married Harriet Smith, the daughter of one of the community’s earliest physicians, Chauncy Smith. Egloff joined Smith’s practice. Their son, William C., was born in Mason City in 1901. It was he and his wife who built the Egloff House. William C followed father and grandfather into the medical profession, attending Rush Medical College of the University of Chicago. He later served at Harvard Medical School as a junior associate and was a Research Fellow in Medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Mass. Like his father and grandfather, most of his career was spent in Mason City. His military service during the Second World War included being Chief of Cardiovascular Services of the 19th General Hospital in the European Theatre.

The Egloff House was built in 1939. The architect, Earle Richard Cone, was the brother-in-law of Dr. Egloff. It represents a style of architecture that became prominent in Europe during the 1920s which was influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and others of the Chicago School. European architects developed Art Deco, Art Moderne, and International Styles using many of the ideas of Wright and others. These styles eventually made their way to the United States in the 1930s. The survey of significant Mason City architecture, done in 1977, classes the Egloff House as “International Style.” A 1993 survey of significant Iowa buildings classes it as “Streamline Moderne.” Both of these styles share contemporary beginnings and components making them difficult to distinguish. Neither style was well known in the Midwest in the 1930s, making the Egloff House particularly unique. There are few remaining examples of this style of architecture in the state or country, and no other examples in Mason City. Dr. Egloff had his architect further influence this design style by personalizing the home with nautical details such as porthole windows, compass inlaid on the floor and fireplace designed to look like a ship’s boiler. Aside from having the first air conditioning system in Mason City, the Egloff House utilizes a support system of Sheffield Clay Tile, which was made locally at the now non-existent Brick and Tile Factory of Mason City. Some of the outstanding interior features include parquet wooden floors, grass cloth wall coverings, glass block windows, and brass lighting fixtures.

In June of 2008 the record flood hit Mason City. 65 structures were destroyed and over 1,000 others were damaged. Floodwaters inundated the Egloff house to a depth of 3 feet on the first floor. Although it is structurally stable, the electrical and HVAC systems were destroyed and there was extensive damage to the unique architectural features of the home. The property was deemed substantially damaged as the cost to repair flood damage exceeded 50% of building value. Rudimentary repairs were made and the first floor remains partially gutted. The owners reoccupied the second floor of the house and lived there until it was purchased by the City in December 2010. The property was purchased as part of a FEMA-funded acquisition and demolition program and remains in a mothballed condition as its future is being decided. The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program requires that the house and all structures be removed from the lot. It is the City’s goal to find a private party to move the house outside the flood plain and place it on the National Register.

Immediate threats to the building include vandalism and the threat of arson. The structure currently sits in a neighborhood of empty flood buyout houses and has the Winnebago River directly to its south. Due to the secluded nature of the area, there has been an increase in break-ins and vandalism, resulting in copper theft and damage to exterior architectural elements. There is a lack of financial resources to currently have ongoing upkeep or restoration, leaving the structure with inadequate maintenance in its present state. Most importantly, the Egloff House was purchased by the City of Mason City as part of a FEMA funded voluntary buyout program. As a condition of the program, deed restrictions state: “The property shall be dedicated and maintained in perpetuity as open space for the conservation of natural floodplain functions…” If the structure is not relocated outside the floodplain, the house will be documented, salvaged, and then demolished.

The current physical state of the Egloff House is structurally sound, with some signs of water damage in the walls, but no permanent damage to any structural members. As mentioned earlier, the extensive damage was to the architectural elements of the building’s first floor interior, as well as the electrical and HVAC systems. Although portions of the first floor interior have been removed, those architectural elements that remain are beginning to show signs of deterioration at an accelerated rate. There is noticeable cracking of the foundation, exterior stucco, and along the windows of the building.

Currently, the City of Mason City is awaiting completion of a relocation feasibility study for the house. A structural team has determined the house can be moved. Phase II of the study will explore available sites that will be evaluated against historic preservation criteria to ensure all options allow for eligibility for the National Register, as well as keeping the structure in its proper context.

The house has tremendous potential to be preserved as a private residence. The architecture is of a timeless style and has market appeal. On the other hand, selecting a site that allows for commercial use will keep the building open for a much wider range of adaptive reuse options. The City intends to seek proposals for relocation and reuse of the property.


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:

 

Every Kid in a Park

img-ook-small-kidHelp teach the next generation about our national natural and historic treasures!

To help engage and create our next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates, the White House, in partnership with the Federal Land Management agencies, launched the Every Kid in a Park initiative. The immediate goal is to provide an opportunity for each and every 4th grade student across the country to experience their federal public lands and waters in person throughout the 2015-2016 school year.

Beginning September 1, 2015, all kids in the fourth grade have access to their own Every Kid in a Park pass at www.everykidinapark.gov. This pass provides free access to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more!

The Every Kid in a Park pass is good for the 2015-2016 school year, until August 31, 2016. Information on obtaining the pass is available by visiting http://www.everykidinapark.gov.

State Historical Building Rehabilitation Report

The State of Iowa has released a report on proposed renovation of the State Historical Building in Des Moines.  Prepared by Neumann Monson Architects, the report proposes demolishing half of the existing building and completely renovating the remaining structure in order to “right size” the facility for long term sustainability.  Download the REPORT by clicking on the image below.

State Historical Building Renovation Predesign Report Cover

The State Historical Building of Iowa (SHB), located on the Capitol Complex in Des Moines, is home to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). The department is comprised of the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa: State Office of Media Production (formerly the film office) and the State Historical Society of Iowa (which includes the State Historical Museum of Iowa, State Historical Research Centers, eight State Historic Sites and the State Historic Preservation Office). In addition to serving as the operational hub for the DCA, the most important role and function of the building is as the state’s flagship museum – a repository for 209 million pieces of Iowa’s history and a public institution serving all Iowans.

The current State Historical Building is at a critical juncture. The building and its systems no longer serve the needs of the DCA or its primary function as the state’s flagship museum. The department’s ability to serve as a cultural institution is in jeopardy due to building flaws, maintenance and oversized structure. Over the past three years, the DCA has undergone a thorough planning process to determine a renovation solution that will not only address the existing building issues but better enable the museum to preserve the collection, be the educational resource for Iowa history and connect Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The proposed solution for the State Historical Building Renovation will maximize the reuse of the existing infrastructure, while right-sizing the building to a square footage that is more manageable for the department within its given operating budget. The west portion of the building will be renovated to accommodate exhibit galleries, classrooms, collection storage and office functions, while the east portion of the building will be removed to create a new outdoor public space and allow for sightlines with spectacular views of the state Capitol. Programmatic functions currently on the east side will be moved to the west side, creating a better defined visitor experience and more efficient staff operations. The existing building is underutilized and therefore oversized at 234,000 square feet; the new plan at 155,000 square feet will be more functional, flexible and adaptable for the future.

CLG Grant Awards

News from the Department of Cultural Affairs: Almost $100,000 in grants were awarded to historic preservation projects across the state in January.  Grantees include physical preservation projects and preservation-oriented events.

One of the projects is the upcoming Preserve Iowa Summit.

Read more from the Dallas County News at

http://adelnews.com/news/dca-awards-nearly-100000-grants-local-historic-preservation-projects-and-programs.html

Preservation Stars of Madison County

1-Bu6Sem-CNMFzAhqhQ_3gRQState Architectural Historian (and Preservation Iowa advisor) Paula Mohr has written an article as part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Madison County, and the town of Winterset its county seat, are well-known as the birthplace of legendary film star John Wayne and as the bucolic setting for the book and movie The Bridges of Madison County.

Today, a constellation of bright preservation stars is hard at work to preserve the history of this remarkable community. The seven-member Madison County Historic Preservation Commission (a Certified Local Government since 1989) is currently headed up by chair Brenda Hollingsworth. Brenda and the other commission members enjoy the strong support of county and Winterset city officials. They are bringing energy, enthusiasm and determination to preserve not only the historic resources within the county but also the stories that make it a special place.

Read the whole piece here.

Endangered: Troy Academy Built in 1850

Troy Academy in Troy, Iowa, needs substantial repairs due to deferred maintenance

Troy Academy in Troy, Iowa, needs substantial repairs due to deferred maintenance

Preservation Iowa’s 2016 Most Endangered Buildings: Troy Academy (Troy, Davis County)

Troy Academy was one of the first academies in Iowa when it was constructed in 1850. Clarence Ray Aurner, who published “History in Education in Iowa in 1915” indicates that Troy was probably the first private school to assume the name “Normal”. This perhaps reflected an effort by independent organizations such as these to accommodate themselves to plans set forth by the state to train teachers in normal schools. Students who completed the first two years were awarded a bachelor of elementary didactics, those who completed all four years received a bachelor of philosophic didactics. The school was used until 1888 when it was shut down. The building became the property of Troy Independent School District in 1904 and was used for classes until 1916 when the Troy High School was opened. The Troy Academy was still used for band, chorus, and shop classes.

The Troy Academy has been featured in many of P. Buckley Moss’ paintings over the years. Discussion of restoring the academy began in the spring of 1973. From this discussion came the formation of the Troy Academy & Historical Society and the listing of the Troy Academy on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Accomplishments during the first five years included restoring the interior and exterior of the Academy to its original appearance; purchasing 23 adjoining acres of crop ground for future maintenance income; acquiring 500 books to start a library in the Academy; and constructing a shelter house and lighted baseball diamond on site.

Since the initial restoration took place the board has worked to maintain the Academy to the best of their financial ability. In 2001 funding was secured from the State Historical Society of Iowa (contract number: REAP/HRDP/CS02-012) for roofing and window restoration. But there are many more maintenance repairs which are currently needed.


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.  In the past 20 years, Preservation Iowa has designated over 140 archaeological sites, churches, landscapes and a variety of other buildings.

The full list of Preservation Iowa’s 2016 Most Endangered Properties includes:

Endangered: Herring Hotel, Belle Plaine

Herring Hotel in Belle Plaine, IA, in danger of legal action due to deterioration

Herring Hotel in Belle Plaine, IA, in danger of legal action due to deterioration

Preservation Iowa’s 2016 Most Endangered Buildings: Herring Hotel (Belle Plaine, Benton Co.)

The Herring Hotel was built in 1900 and expanded to 3 stories in 1912. An addition was added in 1922. It was listed on the National Register in 2008.

Dubbed as “The Swellest Little Hotel in Iowa” it was popular for both prominent and common guests. Prominent guests included US presidents e.g. Theodore Roosevelt and early Hollywood stars e.g. Carl Switzer. When the Lincoln Highway was built through Belle Plaine, Mr. Herring committed to making his place a one stop, all-under-one-roof establishment. He added a gasoline/service station as well as a covered garage for guest parking. The Herrings also established the Lincoln Highway Glad Hand Club with its headquarters based in their hotel. And James Herring was Iowa’s first Lincoln Highway Association president.

Architectural features include custom windows in the sun parlor, terrazzo flooring, and an open staircase.

This property is in immediate danger of possible complete demolition. Due to an unpaired roof, which caused years of ongoing water damage, and also to some extent, the negligence of a neighboring zero lot line property, the western portion of the property is already a complete loss. The removal of this section of the building is now necessary to save the original main portion of this structure.

The non-profit group, the Herring Hotel Building Alliance (HHBA) is the current owner. HHBA is a privately funded organization established in 2008 to restore, preserve, & perpetuate the historical significance of the story and building the Herring Hotel and its rich transportation history, for both its locomotive and Lincoln Highway connections.

Herring Hotel in Belle Plaine, IA, circa 1922.

Herring Hotel in Belle Plaine, IA, circa 1922.

At present the city is requesting that the owner make immediate, costly updates, otherwise they will take possible legal action. The lack of local resources and local support, continue to delay this project. Because a portion of the building is not savable, the city feels restoration is not viable and therefore offers no support in saving the building.


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.  In the past 20 years, Preservation Iowa has designated over 140 archaeological sites, churches, landscapes and a variety of other buildings.

The full list of Preservation Iowa’s 2016 Most Endangered Properties includes: