Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered 2018: Beach Building, Ackley (Hardin County)
Charles Beach, a local entrepreneur and Civil War veteran, constructed this property in 1892 to house a music store downstairs and his residence in the second-story. In 1902, the Beach Building was one of the few surviving structures of a downtown fire that devastated the town. Firefighters ran their hoses through the windows and doors of the Beach Building in order to put out the flames in neighboring properties. In the 1920s the structure housed a bakery and during the 1940s a dining establishment known as the M&M Café which served railroad travelers 24/7 occupied the building. In the 1980s it housed a dentist’s office and more recently, a visiting eye doctor used the building. Due to flooding and structural issues, the property has now been vacant for over a year.
The property is unique in the community as it is one of the few remaining structures built in the late 19th century, a period of rapid economic growth and development in Ackley. The structure retains historic windows and the original cornice with the date of completion.
A recent survey by a structural engineer concluded that the building is in danger of collapse. Many bricks on the back wall are loose or have fallen off. In addition, the eastern side of the building is bowing outward and the wall appears to be shifting resulting in a detachment of part of the second-story floor from that wall. In addition, deterioration of the Beach Building threatens the integrity of the adjoining buildings as well.
The current property owner has not taken advantage of a loan provided by the Ackley Development Commission and to-date has also not provided a solid plan for remediating the structural issues; however, the Ackley Development Commission does not have the budget to foreclose on the property and make necessary improvements. While the City would like to see action on the Beach Building before demolition becomes the only option, its finances are also limited.
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 2018 Most Endangered Properties includes:
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