City building with unique architecture is latest to face demolition in Cedar Rapids
Oct 2018

City building with unique architecture is latest to face demolition in Cedar Rapids

Surrounded by fencing and barbed wire, the river intake and low lift station, shown Oct. 18, 2018, along J Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, faces demolition by the city. The building was constructed in 1930. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Call the Cedar Rapids City Manager’s Office at (319) 286-5080 or email: to voice your opinion about saving this building.

By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage

CEDAR RAPIDS – A Cedar Rapids water department building constructed in 1930 is in the midst of a 60-day demolition hold after members of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission cited its unique architecture and asked if the building could serve an alternative use.

The intake station was built in 1930. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

That outcome appears unlikely as city staff pushed to allow the building, known as the river intake and low lift station, to be “immediately released” for demolition.

“Keeping it is not an option,” said Adam Lindenlaub, a city planner who serves as a liaison to the commission.

Lindenlaub cited pipes that burst inside the two-story brick building, leaving water in the interior, and a 20-by-25-foot pit or basin outside the building that needs to be filled in. He did not have a cost estimate when asked if those issues could be mitigated in order to repurpose the building.

Situated between the Cedar River and J Avenue NE in Mohawk Park, the building is located near railroad tracks, he noted, with a park pavilion nearby.

Lindenlaub said the building would have been demolished in 2006 or 2007, “but other things came along that kind of prolonged that.”

A longstanding discussion item on the Historic Preservation Commission’s agenda, called “proactive preservation” exists for items of which city staff is aware that may be of interest to commission members.

The intake station is reminiscent of the J Avenue Water Treatment Plant, shown Oct. 18, 2018. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Sharing those items in advance of demolition permit requests purportedly allows time to be taken for action to prevent historic properties from being demolished. The request for a demolition permit was the first time commission members were made aware of the pending demolition of the river intake building.

They asked if the building could be used by the parks department or if the facade could be saved, but it appears the city will not take any such action.

The site was used when water was taken from the Cedar River as the city’s drinking water source and permanently removed from service in 1989.

No historical survey was taken to know whether or not the building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The building is reminiscent of the Cedar Rapids Water Works Plant, just down the road from the river intake station. The plant, constructed in 1926 to1929, with buildings designed by Chicago architect Victor Andre Matteson in a Gothic Revival style, was put into operation in 1930, the same year the intake station was built.

Commission members placed a 60-day hold on the demolition permit, which will expire Nov. 26.

See final photos of the Hubbard Ice complex in Cedar Rapids and learn about a petition started by Save CR Heritage to save historic properties in Cedar Rapids.

Save CR Heritage has been raising awareness of at-risk historic properties in Cedar Rapids since 2012. Help continue this important educational and advocacy work by donating here. We can’t do it without you!

The rear of the Cedar Rapids intake station is shown Oct. 18, 2018. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
The two-story intake station was constructed of brick in 1930, along the Cedar River. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
A park pavilion can be seen past the intake station in Mohawk Park. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
The J Avenue Water Treatment Plant was designed by Chicago architect Victor Andre Matteson in a Gothic Revival style. It is unknown if the same architect was used for the intake station, as no historical survey has been done on the station. (photo/Cindy Hadish)






Tracy French

Good thing our City leaders don’t live on Rome!

Sue Ward

We have a beautiful water plant in Saginaw, Michigan designed by the same architect. We love our waterworks building and it is a city treasure. please do all that you can to not let the recking ball take this down. Another such waterworks building is in Fort Wayne,Indiana. Only 3 such buildings in the US.

    Cindy Hadish

    Thank you for the information, Sue! I don’t think anyone here realized that.

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