Jefferson Forge (Jefferson)

Jefferson Forge interior (2020 Preservation at Its Best)

2020 Preservation at Its Best: Large Commercial

An historic building in downtown Jefferson was chosen as the site for the new tenant. Working with architects, engineers, and the State Historical Preservation Society, the developer made plans to rehabilitate this 100+ year old building, which was formerly known as the Odd Fellows Building and features a brick on the front reading “1904.” The project became a remarkable blend of construction that recognized the heritage of the Jefferson community and incorporated state-of-the-art architecture and technology into the new 6,000-square-foot space.

The Jefferson Forge is the epicenter of an initiative that is designed to create a pipeline of software developers, providing unparalleled opportunities for students and individuals in the 39 communities that are within a 30-mile radius around Jefferson. The effort has gained national – and even international – attention, with numerous executives from Silicon Valley, including the Microsoft Chief Technology Officer and a Cofounder of LinkedIn, traveling to Jefferson to commend and support the vision. As Governor Reynolds stated, “The Forge demonstrates what’s possible when a shared vision meets drive and ambition, and it will serve a model for small towns across our state and country.”

Jefferson Forge exterior view (2020 Preservation at Its Best)

For this project to become a reality, numerous individuals and organizations played critical roles. Financing came from federal, state, and local sources, including USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan, federal historic tax credits, state historic tax credits, state redevelopment tax credits, IEDA’s Community Catalyst grant, City of Jefferson TIF, City of Jefferson façade grant, and a grant from Greene County Development Corporation.

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 2020 Preservation at its Best award winners includes: