Save CR Heritage works to preserve historic buildings—both commercial and residential—through awareness and action, including developing preservation and reuse strategies for the community. We work with developers, property owners, city officials, cultural organizations, and more to make sure preservation is an integral part of progress and not seen as an impediment to it.
With these efforts, we strive to become the hub of preservation resources and programming in the Cedar Rapids community.
Buildings That Inspire Us
Save CR Heritage was formed by a group of residents both in response to the demolition of a local beloved historic building and in an effort to prevent the demolition of another just blocks away.
In October 2011, the city’s oldest church, the 1875-era former People’s Church in downtown Cedar Rapids, was demolished to make way for an office building. It was the first Cedar Rapids building listed on the National Register of Historic Places to be demolished for reasons other than damage from a fire or natural disaster. The loss caught many off guard.
Around the same time and just up the street, the First Christian Church was one of several historic buildings slated for demolition to create parking lots for the new Physician’s Clinic of Iowa (PCI) complex. When St. Luke’s Hospital applied for a demolition permit in January 2012, a 60-day hold was placed on the work.
Exciting Historical Discovery
One month into the hold period, local historians discovered something truly remarkable: The church’s 1913 dedication booklet listed nationally recognized architect Louis Sullivan—known as the father of both skyscrapers and modernism—as a project consultant and stained glass artist. It also listed Sullivan-contemporary Louis Millet as the designer of the building’s prairie-style windows and gorgeous sanctuary skylight.
With the demolition of People’s Church still fresh in everyone’s minds, preservationists mobilized to make sure First Christian Church wouldn’t meet the same fate. Funeral-like demonstrations were held daily in front of the church. Behind the scenes, Save CR Heritage applied for its official 501(c)(3) status, began fundraising, and persuaded St. Luke’s Hospital to open the building to interested developers.