Knutson Building placed on Iowa’s “Most Endangered” list
Jan 2016

Knutson Building placed on Iowa’s “Most Endangered” list

A new report on the Knutson Building will be discussed Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, at the Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission meeting. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
The Knutson Building will be discussed Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, at the Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission meeting. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

UPDATE (Jan. 28, 2016) City staff told the Historic Preservation Commission at their meeting tonight that at least one firm will tour the Knutson Building in February to assess the building’s condition. Jennifer Pratt, director of the Department of Community Development, and Anne Russett, a planner with the city’s Community Development Department, said the major concern with the building is asbestos, but mold and lead are also potential issues. Pratt told the commission that the city has contacted four national firms to potentially work on abating the hazards and stabilizing the building, but so far, only one has responded that could potentially do the work needed.

By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage

The Knutson Building, one of the oldest commercial buildings in Cedar Rapids, has been selected for Preservation Iowa’s 2016 Most Endangered List.

Preservation Iowa named the former condensed milk factory to the list on January 27. The group will announce one property per day until the full list is released.

Earlier this week, St. Patrick’s Church, in Fairfax, and the Reimann-Schoeneman House, in Hull, Sioux County, were announced as the first two properties of 2016 to be added to  the list.

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission is expected to hear an update on plans to stabilize the Knutson Building during a meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, at City Hall.

Constructed in 1887, the Knutson Building is one of the last remnants to tell the story of the Cedar Rapids industrial history.

Initial plans by the city to spend up to $167,500 for emergency repairs were stalled when workers cited unsafe conditions inside the building.

An engineering study found the building “dilapidated” but the masonry walls are structurally sound. Little was done to clean the building after it was flooded in 2008. The city council agreed to mothball the building in November 2015 with the caveat that it could be demolished if the public doesn’t raise $2.5 million by April 2017.

The building was constructed with local materials and was designed by local architect William A. Fulkerson, who designed many Cedar Rapids schools and the former Dragon Chinese Restaurant in downtown Cedar Rapids.

City staff members are expected to give an update on efforts to find a contractor at this Thursday’s meeting.

Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered Property program was started in 1995 and implemented to educate Iowans about the special buildings and historic sites that are slowly and gradually slipping away from us.  In the past 20 years, Preservation Iowa has designated over 140 archeological sites, churches, landscapes and a variety of other buildings.

According to Preservation Iowa, construction on the gothic St. Patrick’s Church began in 1911 and the cornerstone was laid in June 1912. A parish school was built in 1916. All fixtures in the church were purchased in Italy and delivered to Fairfax.

The church was closed in 2011 and became part of St. John XXIII in Cedar Rapids. St. John XXIII has legal control of the church at present, but the parish has no interest in preserving the building. Nothing has been done to the building since 2010.

Preservation Iowa notes that the Reimann-Schoeneman House was built in 1912 and was the home of businessman Edward Herman Reimann and his wife, Nannie Schoeneman. Edward Herman Reimann was a founder of Iowa State Bank and Schoeneman Lumber Company, which continues to operate in northwest Iowa and the Midwest.

The property is also an excellent example of late 19th and 20th Century Revival residential architecture. The house is in danger of being demolished due to development.


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