Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered 2018: White House Bathing Palace, Le Mars, Plymouth County
The White House Bathing Palace first appears on the 1907 Sanborn map as containing a public bath house. Primary customers were railroad passengers stopping in Le Mars, but with the spread of indoor plumbing, its use as a public bath house diminished. By 1913, it had become the Le Mars Hospital. It was vacant from 1923-1940 and then was converted into the Central Apartments with 10 small rental units. It has remained an apartment building in some form to the present. Today, the structure anchors the north end of the central business district and contributes to the overall sense of past time and place in the surrounding district.
The exterior of the two-story building retains the historic entrance door and sidelights as well as many other features including a projecting brick cornice and corbelled brick brackets, decorative ‘crossed-over’ brick units at each wall corner and a recessed porch and projecting balcony in the center bay of the second story. The interior retains original hardwood floors in parts of the building and the original wood stair balusters and wood window frames.
Although the building maintains good structural integrity, lack of proper maintenance and a leaking roof has led to damage to the exterior and interior walls. In addition, wood rot is prevalent throughout the existing window frames and the foundation walls show deterioration from water damage.
The building is currently for sale.
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:
- Endangered: IOOF/Masonic Lodge Hall, Garnavillo
- Endangered: Otto Rudolph Furniture Building, Cherokee
- Endangered: Gasser Block 918 Court Ave, Chariton
- Endangered: Sanxay-Gilmore House, Iowa City
- Endangered: Beach Building, Ackley
- Endangered: St. Mary’s School, Waterloo
- Endangered: Star Theater, Sioux Rapids
- Endangered: Wilson High School, Cherokee
- Endangered: Carnegie Library, Rockwell City
- Endangered: White House Bathing Palace, Le Mars
- Endangered: Jackson County Jail, Andrew
- Endangered: Thomas D. Murphy Co., Red Oak
- Endangered: Dr. J.W. Smith Building, Charles City