Historic home moved to downtown Cedar Rapids opens as offices
CEDAR RAPIDS – The only building saved from more than a dozen demolished in the city’s medical district is finding new life as office space in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Two-and-a-half years after it was moved out of the path of the new Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa medical mall, the Averill House is open for business with two tenants and room for several more.
“People appreciate that it’s done,” owner Charles Jones said of the home-turned-office, which opened this month at 616 Fourth Ave. SE. “It’s a neat old building.”
Hardwood floors, ornate tiled fireplaces, a grand staircase and built-in cabinetry are among the features that attracted Jones to the Arts and Crafts-style home, where his office is now located on the second floor, along with a new hair salon.
Three more rooms are available upstairs, while two larger areas are open for lease downstairs, with amenities that include a sun porch and stained glass windows.
“I like classic design,” Jones said of one of the reasons he pursued saving the building, which otherwise would have been demolished.
Jones, of CJE Properties, spent about $100,000 to have the building moved from its former site at 1113 Second Ave. SE, plus more for renovations.
At its previous location, the building housed The Creative Gene, an advertising agency, before it was purchased by St. Luke’s Hospital.
The 1906 stucco home was the only building saved out of about a dozen razed – including several eligible for the National Register of Historic Places – to make room for the new medical complex.
In May 2011, a crew from Ron Holland Housemoving of Forest City relocated the house, at 55-feet-wide, 44-feet-tall and 150 tons, to a lot previously occupied by the Palace Apartments.
Jones said about half of the renovation costs will be recouped in the form of historic tax credits, making the project financially feasible.
He previously restored the former Witwer Building, 305 Second Ave. SE, which now houses White Star Ale House, and two smaller buildings near the New Bohemia neighborhood in southeast Cedar Rapids.
Sweetiepie’s Chicken & Fish Fry occupies one of the buildings at 624 12th Ave. SE, while the former Village Auto Repair Service, 629 12th Ave. SE, is now home to “Bigg” Daddy’s Hot Dogs & More.
Jones sold his interest in the Witwer Building to finance the purchase of another historic building in downtown Cedar Rapids, but details have not yet been finalized, he said.
After moving five houses out of the way of a road project in Waterloo, Jones is now focused on Cedar Rapids, which saw more than 1,000 buildings demolished after the Floods of 2008.
“Everything’s kind of picking up here,” he said. “There’s more development all over the place.”
The Averill House has a connection to the Averill mansion, another home-turned-office, at 1120 Second Ave. SE.
Cedar Rapids historian Mark Stoffer Hunter said Arthur T. Averill, owner of the Cedar Rapids Gas Co., built the mansion in 1884.
His son, Glenn Averill, an investment banker, had the stucco home built across the street about 20 years later.
The home was designed by architectural firm Josselyn & Taylor, which also worked on the historic Brucemore mansion in Cedar Rapids.
Shauna Brooks Whitaker said she had been a hair stylist for 20 years when she decided to go out on her own and “fell in love” with the Averill House, where she opened Fannie Fun’ Dos Styling Abode this month.
Brooks Whitaker said the site attracts people on their way to the new Cedar Rapids Public Library, just a short distance from where her salon is located upstairs in suite 105.
“I love it there – the old charm and the location,” she said. “The integrity of the building is beautiful.”
For information about leasing, contact Realtor Jeremy Tipton of NAI Iowa Realty Commercial at (319) 378-6891 and see the listing.
Fannie Fun’Dos is open 2-9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment Sundays. Call (319) 270-2800.