Preservation Iowa’s 2016 Most Endangered Buildings: #6 Beyer Building on 4th Avenue (Grinnell, Poweshiek County)
The Beyer building which resides along 4th Avenue and Broad Street carries a long history of banking and commercial draw. In 1881 Charles Beyer began banking in Grinnell. By 1883-1884 when the Beyer building was built, Beyer had created C.W.H. Beyer & Co. a real-estate and farm loan business. In 1908 Beyer opened his banking business in the Beyer Block building. C.W.H. Beyer & Co became partners with Citizens National Bank in 1919. The two businesses made an agreement in which Citizens Bank conducted the banking aspect of the Beyer Block building’s business. C.W.H. Beyer & Co expanded their farm and mortgage business to a majority of the states in the Midwest. The business continued after Charles Beyer’s death in 1922.
The architects for the Beyer building were Josselyn and Taylor of Cedar Rapids. The original structure of the Beyer Block building used stone corner blocks, brick work panels above the windows, corbelled cornice, and finally the cast concrete name panel that stated BEYER. C.H.W Beyer & Co continued to operate in the top floor of the Beyer block building allowing for alternative commercial businesses to move into the first floor. The first floor contains three different storefronts to be occupied. From 1910 to 1920 new businesses located themselves to the first floor rooms of the Beyer Block building. Businesses ranged from jewelers, barbers, shoe clerks, Chinaware and fancy goods. This portion of 4th Street became the retail hub of Grinnell’s downtown. Some of these retail businesses brought renovations to the Beyer building in order to market their goods better. Stokes Drug Store installed large front windows in order to display their products more easily. Another change was the addition of a large mirror in order to separate the storefront from another back storage room.
Currently, both the interior and the exterior of the structure are deteriorating due to neglect and structurally the building is generally unstable. Consequently, it is currently not occupied. The present owner has had the building since 2013 and is interested in finding financial resources to restore 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:
- Endangered: Troy Academy Built in 1850
- Endangered: Herring Hotel, Belle Plaine
- Endangered: Beyer Building on 4th Avenue, Grinnell
- Endangered: First Baptist Church, Grundy Center
- Endangered: Iowa State Penitentiary
- Endangered: Knutson Building
- Endangered: St. Patrick Church
- Endangered: Reimann-Schoeneman House