Masonic Building (Burrows Block--Bank Block)

Masonic Building (Burrows Block--Bank Block)

Osceola, Clarke County

Listed as endangered in 2008

Reason for designation

This building is a major three-story landmark on the Osceola public square. It anchors the northeast corner of the historic downtown area. It was commissioned by banker A.H. Burrows in 1872, and built by O.J. King, who is thought to have been involved in other construction projects in county seat towns in South Central Iowa during this period.

The Osceola Lodge No. 77 Ancient Free & Accepted Masons purchased the 3rd floor of the building from A.H. Burrows in May of 1872 prior to construction. This was used by the Masons until the 1960s and was purchased and occupied by the JC's until around 1988. The north half of the first floor of the building was used as a bank for decades, into the 1940s, and the south half was a hardware store from 1883 to at least 1910. The second floor was divided up into professional law offices. In 1949, this floor was obtained and occupied by the American Legion from 1949 through the early 1980s. The first floor housed a drug and sundries store for 20+ years on one side: a photography studio, and then utility company on the other.

This building has been described as a good example of Italianate style used for commercial buildings of that period. The round-arched windows indicate that this is one of the oldest existing buildings around the public square. The 3rd floor boasts a ballroom like area with original ornate hanging light fixtures on the ceiling.

Concerns include further damage by water leakage on the interior. Possible roof replacement has been recommended but the east end is likely too deteriorated to support a proper replacement. Lack of funding and location of tenants as well as an absentee owner complicate this situation. There is difficulty in communication with the absentee owner due to language barriers. Other threats include further outside damage to exterior plaster, bricks and mortar plus cracks in the stone facade due to moisture freezing and thawing in these locations. The local owner has expressed interest in historic restoration of the building and we hope to be able to work with the absentee owner through an interpreter or similar means. Lack of funding for extensive repairs remains a big threat. There has been talk of a cooperative coalition to address some of the problems but so far this has not come to fruition.

2008 Iowa's Most Endangered Properties item 3 of 9

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