Iowa’s Top Historic Preservation Awards Announced

During the 2019 Preserve Iowa Summit in Newton, the State Historical Society, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, presented its annual Preservation Project of Merit Awards to historic properties in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Northwood and Waterloo. The awards recognize projects that exemplify the best practices of historic preservation, meet the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings, and use the State Historic Preservation and Cultural and Entertainment District Tax Credit Program.

The list of this year’s award recipients follows:

Judith A. McClure Award
Recognizes outstanding preservation of a residential property.
William H. Meek House, Des Moines

Built in Des Moines’ Woodland Heights Historic District before the so-called “bungalow craze” of the 1910s, the William H. Meek House was on the verge of demolition when Rally Cap Properties began rehabilitation work on it in 2017. A failing foundation wall, water infiltration and general neglect had left the property in disrepair. Rally Cap’s restoration included removing siding and restoring cedar clapboard and shakes; opening the front porch; rebuilding the north foundation wall with a brick ledge and exposed masonry; repairing double-hung windows, leaded glass built-ins and transom windows; refinishing hardwood floors; recreating trim profiles; installing traditional half-round gutters; and refinishing an antique claw-foot tub. The project’s success has already spurred additional preservation work in the neighborhood by Rally Cap and private homeowners nearby.

Adrian D. Anderson Award
Recognizes outstanding historic preservation of a project having total qualified costs of $500,000 or less.
IOOF-Erickson Buildings, Northwood

The I.O.O.F.-Erickson building was built in 1896 and is the largest operating structure within the Central Avenue Historic District in Northwood, just a few miles from the Minnesota state line. It was designed by architect J.L. Rood of St. Paul, Minnesota, who also designed the Worth County Courthouse nearby. The rectangular two-story brick building is marked by two bays in the Italianate style, and its hollow tile brick was an innovation at the time. The IOOF half of the building was owned by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which rented the lower level for a department store and maintained offices and a ballroom on the second level. The Erickson half was owned by John A. Erickson. As a whole, the building was a primary retail hub for hardware, general goods, restaurants and other retail stores during the 20th century. By 2015, the building was abandoned and in derelict condition with a deteriorating roof. But after three years of rehabilitation, the building now hosts events in the restored ballroom and houses the popular Worth Brewing Co.

Margaret Keyes Award
Recognizes outstanding historic preservation of project having total qualified costs of more than $500,000.
Cedar Rapids Milk Condensing Building, Cedar Rapids

Built in 1887, the Cedar Rapids Milk Condensing Building is the oldest industrial architectural structure on the west side of the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids. It was built during an era of industrial expansion in Cedar Rapids, when many factories, processing plants and railroads spread along both banks of the river during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since then, the 27,000-square-foot building has had a tumultuous lifespan, particularly in the last 20 years when it passed through multiple owners and became a junkyard and a site for an annual haunted house. In 2008, the Cedar River spilled five feet of water inside the building, which was left vacant, neglected and uninhabitable. But in 2013, the city purchased it and hired Hobart Historic Restoration in 2016 to oversee the building’s transformation.

William J. Wagner Award
Recognizes the historic preservation project that best exemplifies use of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation
John Deere C-2 Building, Waterloo

Waterloo’s C-2 Building was built in 1947 as factory in a large complex for the world’s largest tractor plant in the world, the John Deere Tractor company. Today, the six-story, 200,000-square-foot building is one of only three remaining original buildings from the former factory complex. This former factory was reborn in 2018 when a developer turned it into a hotel. One challenge of the rehabilitation was that the windows were too high to see out, so the architects raised the floor to allow hotel guests a better view and, simultaneously, hide the ductwork and wiring underfoot. The hotel, a Courtyard by Marriott, is an excellent example of adaptive reuse and provides a destination for business and family travelers. It also provides 120 jobs for the local workforce and houses a restaurant and bar.