Preservation Iowa’s 2019 Most Endangered List: C. C. Wolf Mansion, Parkersburg (Butler County)
The C.C. Wolf Mansion at 401 5th Street was built in 1895 for local banker and land speculator Charles C. Wolf and his wife Mary. Designed by architect Harry E. Netcott of Independence, this grand Richardsonian Romanesque style home sported copper gutters, a slate roof, three-story tower, and elaborate roof décor including a gargoyle. The interior woodwork featured more than fourteen types of wood. The curved glass windows were provided by the Libbey Glass Company with the leaded glass, sidelights and transoms imported from France. The house had indoor plumbing and an original built-in ice box and zinc sink remain in the kitchen.
Eventually financial difficulties from failed business ventures plagued the family. Charles Wolf died in 1921 and the house, furnishings, and surrounding property were sold at public auction in 1926. The buyer, Gustavious Pfeiffer, deeded the home a short time later to the City of Parkersburg and for many years it held a library and meeting rooms utilized by community organizations. In 1970, it became the home of the Parkersburg Historical Society. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Now the passage of time has taken its toll on the infrastructure of the home and funding is need for several maintenance projects including bat mitigation and replacement of the third floor windows (including those in the tower) where the wood frames have rotted and allowed moisture to creep in. This in turn has jeopardized the plaster walls and ceilings as well as carpet and wood flooring. Because of funding challenges only one section of window repair/replacement can be done at a time, which increases project costs.
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 2019 Most Endangered Properties includes:
- Endangered: Bickett-Rate Memorial Preserve Barn
- Endangered: Central Battery Building, Waterloo
- Endangered: Preston’s Station Historic District, Belle Plaine
- Endangered: St. Patrick Church, Council Bluffs
- Endangered: Wetmore Building, Sioux City
- Endangered: C. C. Wolf Mansion, Parkersburg
- Endangered: Marshalltown Historic District, Marshalltown