Mack International Motor Corp. Building

Preservation at its Best 2018, Adaptive Reuse: Mack-International Motor Truck Corp. Building (Des Moines)

The Mack-International Motor Truck Corp. Building was constructed in 1924 by master builder and general contractor J.E. Lovejoy as a Mack branch sales and service center, with second-floor offices for use by Lovejoy and other tenants. Annexes where built in about 1931 and 1940. The building occupies an entire quarter-block corner site. 

Lovejoy as builder and landlord used the prominent corner on the Auto Row to showcase trucks and used the rear as an industrial service space. 

Mack International (Lovejoy Building) exterior

By 2015 the building had suffered from decades of deferred maintenance. Leaks in the roof and around skylights had caused some severe damage to ceilings and floors on the second story. Most windows were in poor condition and covered with plywood. The two-story volume rear truck work room had been partially subdivided into smaller rooms and upper storage spaces. Many original finishes were hidden behind dropped ceilings, carpet, and drywall. 

The rehabilitation included masonry repairs, restoration of windows, and code-driven safety improvements. An accessible entrance was added. 

Interior floor plans retained the large open spaces as common spaces and inserted 26 living units which vary in size from smaller studios to one bedroom and two bedroom units. Historic spaces retained including showroom, motor rooms, rear truck work area, annex garage, upper annex, and second-floor offices.  

Mack International (Lovejoy Building) interior

The mix of historically finished and raw industrial spaces was carefully maintained. Careful removal of historic cover-up material revealed historic oak wainscot in one office, and clay tile walls with interior windows between motor rooms, which were retained. Steel bowstring trusses were left exposed, concrete floors and raw masonry retained, and exposed ceilings retained where possible. In the offices, plaster walls and ceilings, wood trim, wood doors, wood windows, and wood floors were retained. 

Restored inside and out, Station 121 has brought street life back to the corner of 12th and Mulberry. The building has re-activated the streetscape with the large open storefront and metal-framed industrial windows re-established. 

The building, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, utilized federal and state historic tax credits, workforce housing tax credits, government support, and owner equity. 

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 2018 Preservation at its Best award winners includes: