Key structure in historic New Bohemia district to disappear
CEDAR RAPIDS – Another key piece of the historic New Bohemia district will soon be lost to history.
A former sausage factory and store known as Stodola Meat Market, 1223 Third St. SE, is scheduled to be demolished as early as Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013.
More recently known as Vondracek’s Meat Market, the brick building was damaged in the Floods of 2008.
While not as iconic as the nearby Hach Building, 1326 Second St. SE, set to be demolished next month, or the South Side Civic Club, 1207 Second St. SE, which was razed by the city in August, the building was a key contributing structure in the New Bohemia district, said city historian Mark Stoffer Hunter.
“It still chips away at the district and that’s unfortunate,” he said of the pending demolition.
The National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Bohemian Commercial Historic District notes that the building, also known as the Filipi and Stodola Meat Market, was constructed around 1915.
A sidewalk plaque in front of the building denotes a grocery store, but Stoffer Hunter said the site originally housed a sausage factory and meat market. Several of such businesses existed in the district and across the Cedar River in Czech Village.
As with the historic Hach Building, the city issued a notice of condemnation for the former meat market this summer. The Vondracek family, which owns the property, opted to hire a demolition crew after determining that restoration would be cost-prohibitive, said Judy Vondracek, one of four siblings who co-own the site.
Vondracek’s grandmother, Mary Stodola, began working for her relatives at the meat market after immigrating to the United States from the former Czechoslovakia, Vondracek said.
After marrying Joseph Vondracek, an employee of the Sinclair meatpacking plant, the two purchased the business, likely in the 1920s, she said.
Her parents, Jean and Joseph Vondracek Jr., operated the meat market, which began carrying groceries and in 1971 added the next-door truck wash.
“We used to supply all the meat for Little Bo’s,” Vondracek said, in reference to the corner tavern. “I remember as a kid having to carry the roasts up there.”
Vondracek said the family is debating what the property will become in the future.
Beth DeBoom, president of the non-profit Save CR Heritage, said the building had been an important structure to the historic district.
“It’s always sad to see another one go,” DeBoom said. “They did all that could be done and in the end, it just wasn’t going to happen.”