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Home in Cedar Rapids historic district is latest casualty of demolition by neglect
05
Dec 2019

Home in Cedar Rapids historic district is latest casualty of demolition by neglect

Louis and Hazel Guider are shown in 1962, in the living room of their home at 1527 Second Ave. SE, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The home, long out of the family’s hands, was demolished on Dec. 5, 2019. (photo, courtesy of Stacey Dodd Boon)

By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage

CEDAR RAPIDS — A home in one of the Cedar Rapids historic districts was demolished Dec. 5, after years of decline.

The living room, in a photo taken through an open window, is shown on Dec. 4, 2019. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Built around 1900 at 1527 Second Ave. SE, the house was an early home to Howard Churchill, an attorney and justice of the peace, and his wife, Hazel.

Howard Churchill was on the planning commission that developed May’s Island, where the Linn County Courthouse and former City Hall are located, and was a Linn County auditor, said his great-granddaughter, Michelle Churchill Bell, who remembers sitting on the home’s screened front porch in her childhood and visiting the nearby Dairy Queen with her father.

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Born in 1875, Howard Churchill died in 1950, and Hazel later married Louis Guider. The couple remained in the house, which was sold years later when Hazel eventually moved to a nursing home.

The house has been vacant for about 20 years, and records show it was acquired by the city in January for $4,318. Because it was considered a safety hazard, it could not be tested and abated for asbestos, said Kevin Ciabatti, director of the city’s Building Services Department.

Ciabatti said the demolition contract, to D.W. Zinser, was $49,700. That includes taking the debris to a landfill in Illinois that accepts potentially contaminated materials.

A decorative corbel is shown in the demolition debris of the home at 1527 Second Ave. SE, in a historic district in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Demolitions in the city’s historic districts are rare, as they must be approved by the Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission. But buildings deemed dangerous and structurally unsafe can be demolished regardless of the commission’s recommendation.

Preservation advocates have long decried “demolition by neglect,” the term applied when a building is allowed to deteriorate to the point where it becomes a safety hazard. While some cities have ordinances that specifically address demolition by neglect, Cedar Rapids has no specific provisions.

See other photos of the Churchill home before and during demolition, below, and watch a video of the demolition on the Save CR Heritage Facebook page.

7 comments

Sheryl Stookey

Great pictures, Cindy. I started to cry as they took off the backside. It’s hard to see something that’s been part of your entire life get demolished like that..I used to love that house when I was a little kid. The granddaughter & grandsons would come to visit and we’d sit on the front porch on her white wicker set & play games or play chopsticks on the organ she had in her front living room. Mrs. Guider baked me chocolate chip cookies out of that old 40’s kitchen. All gone as I watched the walls in their assorted colors over the years come tumbling done..blue, green, yellow, peach, I saw. 🙁

    Cindy Hadish

    Sad to see those memories go. Thank you for sharing them, Sheryl. Sounds like it was a wonderful place!

sherry steichen

That was truly SAD.

    Cindy Hadish

    Agreed!

Cindy

I wish I knew this was happening. I would have salvaged the corbel, fireplace, other items.

    Cindy Hadish

    The city didn’t allow salvaging, unfortunately.

Mk mcgrath

So so so sad

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