Save CR Heritage concludes 10th anniversary on a high note
Dec 2022

Save CR Heritage concludes 10th anniversary on a high note

Save CR Heritage board members and volunteers gather for their annual strategic planning meeting in early 2022.

By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Save CR Heritage marked its 10th anniversary with events throughout 2022, and is ending the year with a major announcement.

The all-volunteer nonprofit, which works to preserve historic buildings through education, assistance, advocacy and action, has extended its land lease with Mercy Cedar Rapids for another four years.

Mercy President and CEO Tim Charles, who is retiring at the end of this year, signed the lease extension earlier this month for land where the Save CR Heritage headquarters is located at 606 Fifth Ave. SE.

Tim Charles meets in September 2022 with Save CR Heritage board members Cindy Hadish, left, and Joanie McMahon.

“We are extremely grateful to Tim Charles and Mercy to be given additional time in our current location,” Save CR Heritage President Nikki Halvorson said. “This will allow our group to focus attention on advocacy efforts for at-risk buildings, such as Wilson Middle School, as we continue to raise funds to move our headquarters.”

Known as the J.E. Halvorson House, in memory of beloved board member John Erik Halvorson — Nikki Halvorson’s husband — who was killed while driving to work in 2020, the house was dedicated in October 2021.

Save CR Heritage President Nikki Halvorson, left, is shown with Tim Charles and Joanie McMahon in September 2022.

Mercy sold the house to Save CR Heritage for $1, with the provision that the early-1900s home be moved at the end of 2023.

The lease extension gives the group until the end of 2027 to raise funds and move the home.

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 you!

Visitors line up April 30, 2022, for the Save CR Heritage 10th Anniversary Buildings Tour, one of the events to mark the group’s decade of advocacy this past year. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Organized in response to the demolitions of two historic Cedar Rapids churches, Save CR Heritage is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of the value of historic buildings to strengthen our community, conserve resources, foster economic development and provide a unique sense of place.

To celebrate the decade since its incorporation on May 3, 2012, the group hosted tours of historic buildings, held a workshop on window repair, launched a resource library and more during the past year.

See some of the year’s highlights here:

Early in 2022, Preservation Iowa announced that Cedar Rapids elementary schools made the organization’s list of “Most Endangered Properties.”

Save CR Heritage nominated the elementary schools to the list to raise awareness about the Cedar Rapids School District’s facilities master plan, which will not only affect students, teachers and their families, but change neighborhoods in the entire city.

Read more about the schools on the “endangered” list.

Garfield Elementary School is shown in March 2022 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

In April, Save CR Heritage launched a petition drive to place the closure of Garfield Elementary on the Cedar Rapids School Board agenda.

Without a public hearing, the school board quietly approved an amendment to the district’s facilities master plan, just hours after details of what they were voting on were made public. The agenda item posted in advance of the meeting did not stipulate which schools were being considered for new buildings or closure and supporting documents were only added on the date of the meeting, giving the public little time to respond.

Learn more about the petition drive.

Also in April, Save CR Heritage hosted its 10th Anniversary Buildings Tour, showcasing five churches and other buildings on the edge of downtown Cedar Rapids.

More than 80 people attended the tour, where volunteers shared the history of the five architectural gems that have stood the test of time, and the importance of keeping these places alive.

See photos from the tour.

Tour-goers exit the Bethel AME Church during the Save CR Heritage 10th Anniversary Buildings Tour on April 30, 2022, in Cedar Rapids. The church, on the National Register of Historic Places, serves as one of few surviving links to the city’s early African American community. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By May, the school petition surpassed its goal, and 10 residents addressed the School Board regarding the closure of Garfield Elementary during a public hearing.

More than 30 people attended the meeting.

Learn more about the public hearing.

On a sweltering day in July, Save CR Heritage hosted a window repair workshop, in conjunction with the Oak Hill Jackson Neighborhood Association, to help residents still recovering from derecho damage and others with older homes in need of repair.

About 20 homeowners attended the free workshop, where window rehab expert Terry Philips, of T.K. Enterprises, explained how wood-frame windows were built to be repaired; techniques for removing paint; types of tools and materials used to repair windows and maintenance, such as glazing.

See photos from the window workshop.

Terry Philips leads a workshop on window repair outside of the J.E. Halvorson House in July 2022. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

In September, Save CR Heritage launched its resource library to help homeowners with perplexing old house questions, those wanting to learn architectural terminology and more, during the group’s first Old House Curiosity Club gathering on the porch of the J.E. Halvorson House.

Also that month, Cedar Rapids historian Mark Stoffer Hunter led two walking tours to trace what was lost and what remains, 10 years after the demolition of First Christian Church led to the formation of Save CR Heritage.

The 10th Anniversary Origins Walking Tour highlighted mansions and other buildings that still stand in the area where First Christian Church, and more recently, the Immaculate Conception convent, have disappeared.

Learn more about the walking tour.

Cedar Rapids Historian Mark Stoffer Hunter leads tour-goers on the Save CR Heritage 10th Anniversary Walking Tour on Sept. 23, 2022. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Save CR Heritage also has spent the past year advocating to save older buildings from demolition, as well as the historic Oak Hill Cemetery stone wall, and volunteers have salvaged doors, windows, flooring and other hard-to-duplicate architectural elements from homes slated to be demolished to keep those items out of the landfill and match them with homeowners who need them.

Learn about homes the Cedar Rapids Country Club is offering for free.

In the coming year, Save CR Heritage will continue its advocacy for our city’s architectural treasures, particularly Wilson Middle School, which is at risk under a facilities plan for secondary schools.

Residents are encouraged to attend School Board meetings on Monday, Jan. 9 and Jan. 23, 2023, to raise their voices in support of Wilson. Anyone wishing to address the School Board should arrive a few minutes before the 5:30 p.m. start time to sign in as a speaker. Meetings are held at the Educational Leadership & Support Center, 2500 Edgewood Rd. NW.

Read more about the School District’s $312 million bond issue that could include the demolition of Wilson.

Cedar Rapids School Board members can be reached by email at:

A back entrance of Wilson Middle School is seen in the fall of 2022. (photo/Cindy Hadish)


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