About Us

Save CR Heritage works to preserve historic buildings—both commercial and residential—through awareness and action, including developing preservation and reuse strategies for the community. We work with developers, property owners, city officials, cultural organizations, and more to make sure preservation is an integral part of progress and not seen as an impediment to it.

With these efforts, we strive to become the hub of preservation resources and programming in the Cedar Rapids community.

Buildings That Inspire Us

Save CR Heritage was formed by a group of residents both in response to the demolition of a local beloved historic building and in an effort to prevent the demolition of another just blocks away.

In October 2011, the city’s oldest church, the 1875-era former People’s Church in downtown Cedar Rapids, was demolished to make way for an office building. It was the first Cedar Rapids building listed on the National Register of Historic Places to be demolished for reasons other than damage from a fire or natural disaster. The loss caught many off guard.

Around the same time and just up the street, the First Christian Church was one of several historic buildings slated for demolition to create parking lots for the new Physician’s Clinic of Iowa (PCI) complex. When St. Luke’s Hospital applied for a demolition permit in January 2012, a 60-day hold was placed on the work.

Exciting Historical Discovery

One month into the hold period, local historians discovered something truly remarkable: The church’s 1913 dedication booklet listed nationally recognized architect Louis Sullivan—known as the father of both skyscrapers and modernism—as a project consultant and stained glass artist. It also listed Sullivan-contemporary Louis Millet as the designer of the building’s prairie-style windows and gorgeous sanctuary skylight.

With the demolition of People’s Church still fresh in everyone’s minds, preservationists mobilized to make sure First Christian Church wouldn’t meet the same fate. Funeral-like demonstrations were held daily in front of the church. Behind the scenes, Save CR Heritage applied for its official 501(c)(3) status, began fundraising, and persuaded St. Luke’s Hospital to open the building to interested developers.

Another Loss Motivates Future Preservation Efforts

There was ample interest from developers, and the city of Cedar Rapids promised $300,000 to the buyer to use toward redevelopment. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett was one of several strong advocates for saving the building and urged St. Luke’s to slow down the demolition process while alternative plans were put in place.

Unfortunately, the price placed on the building was too high for interested parties to raise the money for it in such a short period of time. And on May 29, exactly one week after the 100th anniversary of the building’s groundbreaking, demolition commenced.

While the loss of a Sullivan-Millet building was devastating, we now use this event—as well as the demolition of People’s Church—to inspire us to affect change and ensure it’s the last such historic loss our community faces.

OUR MISSION

With the mission of assistance, advocacy and action, Save CR Heritage works to preserve historic properties by developing preservation and reuse strategies, as well as raising awareness of the value of historic buildings in strengthening our community, conserving resources, fostering economic development and enriching lives.

BOARD MEMBERS

Kay Baty
Chris Cronbaugh
Beth Chacey DeBoom
Steve Gravelle, Secretary
Cindy Hadish
Nikki Halvorson
Bethany Jordan, President

Lance LeTellier
Emily Meyer
Mark Stoffer-Hunter
Patricia Soukup
Jay Vavra, Vice President
Elizabeth Wilson, Treasurer
Esther Wilson

501(c)(3) Status

Save CR Heritage is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization governed by a set of bylaws. Administration consists of an elected board of directors and acting officers. Committees are appointed and active, and they report at the monthly public meetings held on the first Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at CSPS in New Bohemia. Donations are tax-deductible and go to support efforts to save threatened historic structures in our community.