Endangered: Otto Rudolph Furniture Building, Cherokee

Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered 2018:  Otto Rudolph Furniture Building, Cherokee (Cherokee County)

Otto Rudolph Furniture Building cover-up vinyl siding obscures the historic facade

This two-story wood frame building at 208 W. Main may have been built as early as 1864 and consequently could be the oldest surviving commercial building in Cherokee. It is also one of only two frame buildings in the nationally designated Cherokee Commercial Historic District. By 1870, it housed Otto Rudolph Furniture the first known business to occupy the building. Over the years, it has also housed a candle business, confectionery, two restaurant’s, law offices, a cigar store, and several bars. It has been vacant for the last five years. Evidence of the building’s history including additional windows and a hand lettered sign for G.L. Farr Lawyer is currently hidden behind vinyl siding on the exterior.

Presently, the structure is sound but maintenance is needed. There is at this time no heat or air conditioning in the building and wood floor joists and rim joists on west side need repair and or replacement.

The present owners have the building listed for sale at $1 with the stipulation that it be demolished. The Cherokee Historic Preservation Commission is interested, however, in saving the structure and, with the consent of the owners, is currently pursuing possible avenues to save, stabilize, and adaptively reuse it. A couple of local organizations have already expressed interest in renting and/or owning the building if resources can be found to stabilize and repair it.

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: