Mar 2017

Last of The Flats: Bohemian home awaits rescue in Cedar Rapids

This Bohemian-style home at 909 16th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, faces demolition unless someone steps forward to move it. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage

CEDAR RAPIDS — A once-thriving neighborhood in southeast Cedar Rapids could lose the last of its homes soon.

During its Feb. 23 meeting, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission put a 60-day hold on a Bohemian home at 909 16th Ave. SE, one of the last houses standing in The Flats neighborhood.

Cargill, which purchased the home, would give the house away for free, and is considering offering the cost of demolition to be put towards moving the house, though that decision has not been finalized.

Jon Yungtum, of Weitz Industrial, which is serving as general contractor on the site, said residents had restored the home after the 2008 flood and had only recently moved.

If anyone does want the house, they would have to act quickly, as commission members said they would consider lifting the 60-day hold as soon as their next meeting on March 9.

A side entrance, rather than one to the front, was used as a cost-savings measure to fit two houses onto one lot. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Commission member Mark Stoffer Hunter said the home was likely built in the 1870s and epitomizes the Bohemian style of worker house constructed in the neighborhood.

A side entrance, rather than a front door, allowed two homes to sit on a single lot as a cost-saving measure for the frugal Czechs who may have worked at the nearby Sinclair meatpacking plant, within walking distance.

“It’s a very Bohemian characteristic,” said Stoffer Hunter, who is also a board member of Save CR Heritage.

Just 35 years ago, more than 120 homes were located in The Flats, named for the low-lying topography next to the Cedar River, with some of the houses dating to pre-Civil War times when the area was still outside the city limits.

“This was a good location,” Stoffer Hunter said, citing not only the meatpacking plant, but the river, railroad tracks, and other amenities that followed, including taverns, a grocery store and St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church, all nearby.

Even before the 2008 flood, the neighborhood had been shrinking as Cargill bought up many of the modest homes for expansion of its grain processing plant.

The home’s original wood is intact under the siding. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Now, just three homes remain standing, with two slated for demolition and Stoffer Hunter hoping that someone will step forward to have the Bohemian home moved.

Two additions were built to expand the home, but the original portion remains historically intact, he said, including the wood under the siding. Its small size — just 1,000-square-feet — and solid frame would make it an ideal candidate to be moved, perhaps nearby to an empty lot in New Bohemia, Stoffer Hunter added.

Many homes in New Bohemia, centered along Third Street SE, were demolished after the flood, but the area is seeing a resurgence, with a nostalgia for history.

“These represent the last houses of The Flats neighborhood,” Stoffer Hunter said. “We’re seeing the end of the story for this neighborhood and this home tells part of that story.”


Lance LeTellier and Beth DeBoom, board members of Save CR Heritage, tour the home in The Flats neighborhood of Cedar Rapids on March 3, 2017. (photo/Cindy Hadish)


Original window openings remain intact in one of the last homes standing in The Flats neighborhood of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Cedar Rapids historian, Mark Stoffer Hunter, takes photos inside the upstairs of the home at 909 16th Ave. SE. (photo/Cindy Hadish)


Faith Hollandsworth

That is a beautiful house ?? Should be preserved somewhere !! What are the stipulations in where it can be moved ?

    Cindy Hadish


    There are no stipulations on where it can be moved. I’m sure Cargill would want to enter into an agreement under which the new owner would move the house within a certain amount of time.

Joyce hanson

I wish I could buy it and move it. Some great memories on the flats

Kris Kessell

I sure hope someone decides to move this home. I lived in the flats as a small child and it was a great place to grow up.


Brings back a lot of memories! I also lived in that area as a young child. My baby brother was born in a home very near this one. Hoping this last one finds a new home!


    I grew up on 17th Ave in the flats. the last time my husband and I drove through the neighborhood there was only one house left on 17th Ave. is it still there??

      Cindy Hadish

      Janet, unfortunately this was the last house standing in the Flats.

Deanne Kadlec

Was this last house saved?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.