Kauffmann House

Preservation at its Best 2017, Residential (Single Family): Kauffmann House (Iowa City)

The Historic Levi Kauffman House at 304 South Summit in Iowa City was built in 1868 as an Anglo‐ Italianate Victorian house. Sitting on the prominent corner of Historic Summit Street and main thoroughfare Burlington Street, it is part of the Summit Street Historic District. Kauffman was a prominent nursery owner who also developed the surrounding addition to the city which is named for him. The house was added on to in the 1880s and the porch was removed in the 1930s or 1940s around the same time it was remodeled into 6 apartments.

Kauffmann House Before, 2017 Preservation at Its Best

For the past few decades, 304 South Summit sat hiding behind overgrown trees and beneath peeling paint, falling into greater disrepair. At one point, the City had to step in to prevent Demolition by Neglect and convince the owner to proceed with necessary repairs. The brick which had been painted long ago was deteriorating from ivy growth, the foundation was failing in several areas and leaking windows and doors contributed to its deterioration. Poison ivy was even growing in between the floor and wall in one of the ground floor apartments.

Finally, in June 2016, new owners Kevin and Patricia Hanick began the rehabilitation project by clearing the brush and trees enveloping the house while consulting with City preservationists on the rehabilitation process. They performed extensive research on the history of the property and began their project with material selection and budgeting as their main drivers. At 4000 square feet, the building was a large property to rehabilitate.

Kauffmann House after rehabilitation, 2017 Preservation at Its Best

The Hanicks felt it was important to utilize recycled materials and obtained specific salvaged items from Burlington Iowa’s Restoration Center. They also donated salvaged sinks and materials that could not remain in place. Interior floors and trim were repaired and refinished. Bathrooms and Kitchens were given a modern make‐over.   During this rehabilitation, the metal fire escapes were removed from the front of the house and original windows on the main portion of the house were repaired instead of replaced. The interior finishes were updated or repaired and refinished. Structural issues were fixed.

The most eye‐catching portion of the rehabilitation was the repainting of the exterior in red to match the original brick. Finally this prominent Iowa City property regained its impressive historical presence at the gateway to the City’s first Historic District, Summit Street.

Preservation Iowa’s two most visible programs are Iowa’s Most Endangered and Preservation at Its Best. These two programs work well together because being listed as Most Endangered often times leads to awareness, a preservation effort, and a high-quality, award winning project.

The full list of Preservation Iowa’s 2017 Preservation at its Best award winners include: