Final photos: historic Hubbard Ice buildings in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage
Buildings that were key to the history of Cedar Rapids, and constructed to withstand water and ice, have been demolished so they are not left on the “wet” side of a flood levee.
The Hubbard Ice complex, built over a series of years along the Cedar River starting in the 1930s, was bought out by the city even after returning to service after the devastating floods of 2008.
One building remains on the site, at First Street and K Avenue NW, which preservationists hope will be saved to tell part of the story of the ice industry that was important to the city’s history.
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Ice was harvested from the Cedar River until 1937, said city historian Mark Stoffer Hunter.
As discussions ensued on the fate of the Hubbard Ice buildings several years ago, City Council member Scott Olson, one of eight owners, said the complex was full, with more than 20 tenants. Hubbard Ice had an assessed value of nearly $1.8 million, providing annual property taxes of more than $56,000 to Cedar Rapids.
Save CR Heritage and Stoffer Hunter were among preservationists who advocated to save the brick buildings, noting that the structures were designed to hold ice and water.
They pointed to other cities that have made use of similar historic structures, such as the Ice House Museum in Cedar Falls, and the Freight House in Davenport, which houses restaurants and other businesses and is the site of a popular farmers market.
“It’s built like a fort inside,” Stoffer Hunter said, before demolitions began on the Hubbard Ice buildings late this summer. Demolition work was still underway this month.
Ultimately, only a small office building was designated to be saved. City officials have said the building will be used as an open park structure.
Hubbard Ice Company was established in 1870 on a site above the dam on the east side of the Cedar River, and moved to the west side in 1901, constructing a series of buildings to store ice harvested from the river.
“By the turn-of-the-century, Hubbard Ice operated 13 ice wagons to supply household and commercial users throughout the city, and in 1915 modernized its operation by the addition of equipment to artificially manufacture ice,” a historical survey of the neighborhood notes. “In addition to its retail operation, Hubbard supplied ice for all of the refrigerated cars operated by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.”
Stoffer Hunter said the original buildings were replaced, with the smaller office building likely built between 1930 and 1935. Warehouses along First Street NW were constructed between 1930 and 1940, while the section along K Avenue NW was built for Searles Dairy in the late 1940s to 1950s.
David and Lijun Chadima, whose family operated the business for decades, toured the site earlier this summer, along with Stoffer Hunter.
See photos from the tour, along with demolition images, below: