The Frankie House becomes a home
Jul 2017

The Frankie House becomes a home

The McDore family is shown on the front porch of the 1890s home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that Save CR Heritage members moved and rehabilitated over the course of two years. The family bought the home earlier this summer. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish

CEDAR RAPIDS – The McDore family is bringing an 1890s Bohemian house in Cedar Rapids full-circle.

Once destined for demolition, the “Frankie House,” as it’s known, is now the family’s home, just as it had served families for generations before the McDores.

“I had been looking since February,” Kichia McDore said of her home search in the area, where the family had rented a house and where her three children attend school. “We wanted to stay in this neighborhood.”

Save CR Heritage moved the home in September 2015 from 1257 Third Ave. SE – where a permit had been taken out for its demolition – several blocks away to 1425 Fifth Ave. SE.

Donate here to help Save CR Heritage continue its mission. Any amount is vital for our work in advocating for and raising awareness of at-risk historical properties. Thank you!

With in-kind and monetary donations and thousands of hours of volunteer work, Save CR Heritage transformed the house back to its original charm. It was placed on the market as affordable housing this spring under the city’s ROOTS program, which offers down-payment assistance to qualified buyers.

The timing was right for the McDore family, said Kichia, who works as an information and referral specialist at United Way 211.

“I love it,” she said of the three-bedroom, two-bath home, which retained its vintage gable trim, fish-scale siding and original interior doors, woodwork and wooden floors.

Heating and air conditioning, electrical wiring, a new roof and plumbing were installed and the foundation is faced with masonry work reflecting the time period when the house was built by Bohemian immigrants in 1894. Even the landscaping is new.

The McDore family stands next to a plum tree that was kept on their property, the site of a former community garden. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

One primary garden element that was retained was the backyard plum tree, which Kichia’s children now enjoy. The family also has planted their own garden.

The move involved support from the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association, which owned the new location, then the site of the neighborhood’s community garden. The group agreed to move its garden to a nearby lot then owned by the Affordable Housing Network. The neighborhood association in turn transferred its lot to Save CR Heritage.

“We’re grateful for all of our partners in this move and rehabilitation project,” said Bethany Jordan, president of Save CR Heritage. “This goes to show how important it is to retain and value our older buildings, which can serve for years into the future with the proper care.”

The Frankie House project was funded entirely through Save CR Heritage and the generous support of donors, but a shortfall remains. Save CR Heritage has been raising awareness of at-risk historic properties in Cedar Rapids since 2012. Help continue this important educational and advocacy work by donating here. We can’t do it without your help!

Learn more about the transformation of the Frankie House and see photos of the home from pre-rehab through the move, to now:

The Frankie House, named in honor of a child who died in the home in the late 1800s, is shown at its original site at 1257 Third Ave. SE, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
The Frankie House rolls past Westminster Presbyterian Church, the previous owner of the home, during its move in September 2015. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
The Frankie House is shown after Save CR Heritage members and volunteers rehabilitated the home in spring 2017, with the group’s signature heart banner. (photo/Cindy Hadish)


Robin Kash

Good story, Cindy! A new family to welcome to Wellington Heights.

    Cindy Hadish

    Thanks Robin! We’re glad the family loves their new (old) home!

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