Final remnants of an early Iowa community will soon be relegated to the past.
A new Goodyear Tire store is planned at the location of the former Buffalo United Methodist Church, 4009 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE, said Josh Collingwood, manager of Downtown Tire, 402 Second Ave. SE.
The site was part of the New Buffalo settlement that originated in the 1850s, about the same time that Cedar Rapids was getting its start, said Cedar Rapids Historian Mark Stoffer Hunter.
Stoffer Hunter said the small community, at what is now Edgewood Road and Blairs Ferry Road NE, was similar to several others built along railroad stops that eventually were absorbed by Cedar Rapids, with a church, school, general store and post office.
“They almost don’t qualify as towns,” he said of early settlements that included Beverly in southwest Cedar Rapids and DairyDale, near Mount Vernon Road and 34th Street SE. “These were more of a collection of houses, with maybe a post office and one store.”
New Buffalo had at least two named streets: Hawkeye and Buckeye, he added.
The church, built in 1905, replaced an 1878 building that was destroyed by fire in 1904 and includes six Gothic windows reminiscent of the one that inspired Grant Wood to paint “American Gothic.”
Both Collingwood, who owns the property, and Stoffer Hunter said they hoped someone would be able to salvage the windows, inset with colored glass, rather than stained glass.
Plans call for the two remaining buildings to be demolished unless someone wants to move them in the coming weeks before groundbreaking this fall, said Collingwood, who offered the buildings at the bargain price of $1. Much of the church has already been salvaged, he noted.
The new Goodyear Tire store will face Blairs Ferry Road, just behind a Casey’s General Store and across the street from a tanning salon.
Commercial development along both roads led to the decision to sell the church and 1915 parsonage, said Marlene Himes, a longtime member of the congregation.
The church moved in 2012 to a building previously occupied by Faith United Methodist Church in a more residential neighborhood at 1000 30th St. NE.
“It served its purpose for a long time, but we sure enjoy this one,” Himes said of the newer building, with all activities on one level.
Stoffer Hunter said once the church and pastor’s residence are gone, only a cemetery will remain to mark the settlement.
“It was a very simple church to begin with,” he said. “But it’s the last remnant of what was New Buffalo.”
Anyone willing to move the buildings can call Josh Collingwood during business hours at (319) 366-1807.