Save CR Heritage honored with award from Preservation Iowa
Preservation Iowa presented awards for excellence in preservation during a luncheon Aug. 28, 2018, in Waterloo. Save CR Heritage was among the honorees, being named the Martha Hayes group Preservationists of the Year.
Learn more about the award and other honorees in this announcement from Preservation Iowa:
Waterloo, IA – Preservation Iowa announced their annual “Preservation at Its Best Awards” at the historic Elks Lodge in Waterloo, on Aug. 28, 2018, giving 11 awards in nine categories.
Each year, Preservation Iowa seeks to honor historic preservation successes. In doing so, we hope to inspire others to take action to preserve, protect, and promote Iowa’s historic resources.
Additionally, these projects highlight the work being done around the state to preserve our historic infrastructures by repurposing them to allow reintegration into their local communities.
Many of these projects encourage community growth by stimulating the local economy through housing, the food industry, and bringing Iowans back into their historic districts, which encourages the preservation of Iowa’s rich heritage.
Preservation Iowa is the statewide nonprofit historic preservation organization dedicated to advocacy, education and creation of partnerships that enhance our economic and cultural future through the preservation of Iowa’s historic resources.
The 2018 Preservation at Its Best Awards included the following winners:
– Adaptive Reuse: Mac-International Motor Truck Corp. / Station 121 Lofts
Location: Des Moines
– Commercial (Small #1): Kendall Building / Sensibly Chic
– Commercial (Small #2): Pitt Carriage Building
Location: Des MoinesPage 2 of 9
– Commercial (Large): Hotel Grinnell
– Community Effort: Bricker – Price Block
– Residential (Single-Family): Moffett Cottage
Location: Des Moines
– Residential (Multi-Family): Francis Apartments (St. Mary’s School)
– Rural Preservation: Downtown Walnut Facades
– Sustainability in Preservation: Catholic Pastoral Center / Home Federal Savings & Loan
Location: Des Moines
– Martha Hayes Award for Preservationist of the Year for 2018
Individual Recipient: Ruth Ann Van Donslear
– Group Recipient: Save Cedar Rapids Heritage
Location: Cedar Rapids
2018 Preservation Awardees and Project Summaries:
Project: Mac-International Motor Truck Corp.
The Mack-International Motor Truck Corp. Building was constructed in 1924 by master builder
and general contractor J.E. Lovejoy as a Mack branch sales and service center, with second-floor
offices for use by Lovejoy and other tenants. Annexes where built in about 1931 and 1940. The building occupies an entire quarter-block corner site.
Lovejoy as builder and landlord used the prominent corner on the Auto Row to showcase trucks
and used the rear as an industrial service space.
By 2015, the building had suffered from decades of deferred maintenance. Leaks in the roof and
around skylights had caused some severe damage to ceilings and floors on the second story. Most
windows were in poor condition and covered with plywood. The two-story volume rear truck work room had been partially subdivided into smaller rooms and upper storage spaces. Many original finishes were hidden behind dropped ceilings, carpet, and drywall.
The rehabilitation included masonry repairs, restoration of windows, and code-driven safety
improvements. An accessible entrance was added.
Interior floor plans retained the large open spaces as common spaces and inserted 26 living
units which vary in size from smaller studios to one bedroom and two bedroom units. Historic spaces
retained including showroom, motor rooms, rear truck work area, annex garage, upper annex, and
The mix of historically finished and raw industrial spaces was carefully maintained. Careful
removal of historic cover-up material revealed historic oak wainscot in one office, and clay tile walls with interior windows between motor rooms, which were retained. Steel bowstring trusses were left
exposed, concrete floors and raw masonry retained, and exposed ceilings retained where possible. In
the offices, plaster walls and ceilings, wood trim, wood doors, wood windows, and wood floors were
Restored inside and out, Station 121 has brought street life back to the corner of 12th and
Mulberry. The building has re-activated the streetscape with the large open storefront and metal-framed
industrial windows re-established.
The building, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, utilized federal and state
historic tax credits, workforce housing tax credits, government support, and owner equity.
The Kendall Building at 111 E Lincoln Way was built in 1916 after the preceding framed building
burned. The current structure is a two-story Prairie/Craftsman style with 1,122 sq ft. in the original
building. Kendall’s Pool Room featured a front smoking room and seven billiard tables which open until 1955. It is in the Jefferson Square Historic District and sits on the corner of a mid-block alley that has also been renovated.
In 2015, the Kendall Building was run-down and abandoned. The City of Jefferson purchased
the building for $50 and made a commitment of $150,000 to renovate the building. Rosie & Ray Tucker moved back to Jefferson and were interested in opening their business from Arkansas, Sensibly Chic, in the Kendall building. Rosie is the granddaughter of the original Kendall family. A Challenge Grant was awarded in 2016 for the total restoration with retail in the first level and the Tucker’s apartment in the 2nd story. This took collaboration of the Tuckers, City, and Jefferson Matters: Main Street with assistance from the school’s athletic dept. for debris removal from the basement.
From demolition and stripping down of the entire building, asbestos removal, a new roof and
stabilization of the basement by the City to refinishing the original billiard hall floors, brick-pointing,
restoring the original metal ceiling, building new stairs to the 2nd floor. The new storefront windows
showcased home décor and upper story windows were inserted into the plywood openings. Local
contractors were used throughout the project.
Restoration began in the fall of 2016 and Sensibly Chic opened in Sept. of 2017. The Tuckers
moved into their apartment within another month.
The impact has been huge. Sensibly Chic opened in the middle of the CDBG façade rehabilitation
project with 13 other buildings. The residents and visitors were so impressed with how this building
was rehabilitated that they watched intensely to see how the other facades were uncovered and rebuilt
so a steady stream of cars followed the rehabilitation with interest.
The success has been undeniable and the City of Jefferson is working to buy and stabilize more
buildings with hopes of attracting more businesses to downtown Jefferson.
Project: Pitt Carriage Building
Built in 1909, the Pitt Carriage Co. Building, 212 E. Third Street, Des Moines, is located in the
heart of the East Side Industrial, Warehousing, and Railroad Historic District. The Pitt Carriage Co.
Building made a locally significant contribution to Des Moines history as a carriage factory building,
which was constructed and operated under the leadership of the only woman, Mabel Pitt, to lead a
carriage company in the United States. Her unprecedented ownership/presidency of a carriage
company earned local press and national trade journal coverage.
The facility served as carriage factory and warehouse through 1934 at which time it was
repurposed as an ostrich hatchery until 1951. From 1951-1974, the facility served as warehouse for the
Feed Specialties Company. The building has sat vacant since.
The first floor and second floor each contain 5,280 square feet of space. Just as on the exterior,
the interior is unadorned. The structure consists of structural brick walls over a concrete floor, interior
structural wood and steel columns, an array of steel I beams, wood girders and remnant wood flooring.
The architectural effort was to retain the historic building envelope as well as its original window and
carriage door openings. All modern CMU window infill and garage doors were removed and replaced
with new recessed mahogany wood storefronts, pedestrian doors, and non-operable carriage doors.
New 2/2 wood double-hung windows were installed throughout with thermally-broken, wood-frame
windows to replicate the original windows per photographic evidence sourced from the Des Moines
Register and other vintage imagery from the area.
A new roof and ceiling assembly was installed in addition to level two flooring. Wood egress
stairs were added on each end of the facility.
The goal for the interior was to the retain character-defining industrial features – concrete floors,
masonry walls, soaring ceilings, and exposed structural steel and plaster wall surfaces. The upper level
was converted to a single entity office. The existing column line was left exposed and battered along
which the new glazing system, offices, conference rooms and restrooms were located.
The entirety of the building has been rehabilitated to support mixed use tenancy for the coming
century. All residential and commercial tenant spaces have been filled.
Project funding sources: $2,000,000 total project cost. Funding sources include State (SHPO)
and Federal (NPS) Historic Tax Credits and the City of Des Moines Tax Increment Financing.
Project: Hotel Grinnell
Hotel Grinnell is a 45-room boutique hotel that includes a 300 seat ballroom, a 450 seat
auditorium, a lobby bar and outdoor patio. The project is an adaptive reuse of the city’s 1921 Junior
High School in the center of downtown Grinnell.
The school was abandoned by the school district and gifted to the city in 1978. The city
converted the classrooms into office space. Using 1970’s sensibilities, acoustical ceiling tile was added
and hardwood and terrazzo floors were carpeted-over. The fundraising and design for the project
began in 2009, but construction and renovation of the 65,000 square foot building did not start until
October of 2016.
The classrooms were converted to hotel rooms, their hardwood floors, original to 1921 restored.
Acoustic ceiling tile was removed and original ceiling heights and window configurations restored.
Lockers were re-purposed and made into end-of-bed benches in some rooms. Chalk boards adorn
every room and hang in the bar. Corridors were restored to their original width and the former school
kitchen is now a prep / catering kitchen. The terrazzo floors original to the school have been restored
where possible in public spaces and hallways.
Major challenges were in adding plumbing and hvac to accommodate a modern hotel with
individual bathrooms and heating/cooling control. Extraordinary measures were taken to use local
contractors in order to maximize the local economic impact of the project.
The community restrooms added in the 70’s were converted to the hotel’s bar, the gyms 50+
year old scoreboard adorns the wall in the bar.
The old gymnasium is now the hotel’s ballroom and home to weddings and other events. The
original hardwood floor was restored. The building’s historic 400 seat theater was restored and doubles
as a public performance venue and conference venue.
The project and owner received Iowa’s Impact Award for inspiring community growth and
achieving the impossible – bringing a boutique product to a place where only budget flagged properties
exist along the Interstate.
The project was funded with private equity, historic tax credits, the Iowa Reinvestment Act, local
motel tax, property tax reimbursement over time (TIFF) and a large bridge loan.
Project: Bricker – Price Block
Cephas D. Bricker and Walter J. Price began construction on what would become known as the
Bricker-Price Block in 1900. Though each half was owned separately, contractor J.E. Walton built the
structure with a unified façade, matching cast-iron storefronts, and a shared central staircase.
The Bricker-Price Block is one of the oldest remaining examples of Romanesque Revival architecture in the Earlham commercial district. When it opened in 1900, the interior featured wood floors, plaster
walls, and decorative pressed-tin ceilings—materials that remain. Early on, the building housed general
stores at the street level and offices on the second floor.
By the early 2000s, the upstairs had been converted into five modern apartments. The retail
level included commercial spaces with layers that covered original walls, floors, and ceilings. In the
spring of 2015 a strong storm lifted the roof and caused catastrophic water damage, leaving the
building largely unoccupied and falling into disrepair. While cleaning out the damaged building
materials, the historic plaster, wood floors, and decorative pressed metal ceilings were exposed—
providing an impetus for considering a historic tax credit project to save the building.
This project won the Community Effort Award because the rehabilitation of this spaces was
orchestrated by the people of Earlham. Through their efforts, the nonprofit Bricker-Price Block
Restoration Corporation has overseen saving this property, getting it listed on the National Register of
Historic Places, revitalizing it, and converting what had been a vacant eyesore into a community asset.
The classes, workshops, cultural events, restaurant space, and teen center all help to foster community
involvement and add vibrancy to the Earlham downtown. The organization has worked to involve a
broad coalition of community members. The project is helping attract new businesses, new visitors, and
additional rehabilitation to Earlham.
The project brought together a variety of funding sources, including state and federal historic tax
credits, local government support, grants, donations from community members, gifts of grain from local farmers’ harvests, and proceeds from various fund-raisers. Fund-raising included selling “gear” (T
shirts, coasters, koozies, and tea towels), selling bricks, offering inclusion on a photo wall for donors,
and hosting the Unlock the Block open house event with a portion of proceeds from local food trucks
and local brews supporting the Bricker-Price Block restoration.
Project: Moffett Cottage
The Moffett Cottage was built c. 1894 by an un-determined builder or owner, however it is
associated with F. G. Moffett. Moffett was a civil war veteran and was appointed Chief Clerk of the U.S. Pension office in 1890 serving until 1894.
The cottage is a contributing structure to the Sherman Hill Historic District for its architectural
contribution to the character of the neighborhood.
The project included lifting the house and moving it few feet away from an adjacent apartment
building. Additionally, the project involved the total rehabilitation of the first and second level into a
sophisticated interior design with ultramodern influences while preserving the cottage’s historic
features, finishes and spaces where they existed.
The modern interior design features respect and build upon the existing historic features,
finishes and materials. The structure had been extensively altered over many years and Mary Kay
carefully removed the non-original materials to uncover the existing historic features and created
interesting spaces and features such as the new stairway to the second floor.
While already listed as a contributing structure in the Sherman Hill Historic District this extensive
rehabilitation project was carefully executed so that the structure will continue to maintain its listing
status. Funded by the home owner and supported by state and federal tax credits, this structure is a
great illustration on how new residential design can be achieved within a shell of a historic structure.
Project: Francis Apartments
The Francis Apartments is one of 4 former St. Mary’s parish buildings. These buildings include
the church, rectory, convent and the school. The parish closed in May of 2010, leaving 3 of the
buildings vacant. The convent, which was acquired in the early 2000s, was a transitional home for
homeless women with children.
The school originally had eight classrooms, four on each of the first two floors and a large
assembly hall that comprised the entire 3rd floor. In the early 1900s, the 3rd floor was converted into 4
more classrooms. The 18,000 square foot building is relatively plain, displaying elements of the
Romanesque Revival and Greek Revival Style. It is characterized by its rounded arch windows on the
top floor, the segmental arched windows on the remaining floors and the center classical pediments
and Greek Revival-style cornice with dentils. The original design of the building remained mostly intact, except for a 2 story addition that was constructed in 1969 on the west façade.
The project began in 2013 with the formation of a nonprofit now known as Steeple Square. The
Board of Steeple Square envisioned the reuse of the entire former St. Mary’s campus as a resource for
the surrounding neighborhood and community at large. Quality, affordable housing was identified as a
need for the neighborhood.
The project qualified for $1,800,000 in Federal and State Historic Tax Credits, leaving a gap of
$2,200,000 to raise. Steeple Square partnered with Opening Doors to envision the old school as
permanent supportive housing. In a joint community fundraising campaign, Steeple Square and
Opening Doors raised enough money to rehabilitate the former St. Mary’s School into twelve, quality
affordable apartments, eight of which would be available for women that Opening Doors serves.
The 1969 addition was removed. Historic wood windows and doors were restored. Missing
doors and windows were replicated. The brick masonry and stone foundation were repointed. The
wood eaves and historic cornice with dentils were reconstructed from historic photos. Downspouts,
gutters, flashing, and roof vents were repaired.
The interior work involved converting each of the old classrooms to apartment units. Original
classroom doors and transoms were retained as well as the embossed metal ceilings. Plumbing,
sprinklers, HVAC, and electrical systems were installed, along with interior partitions. The interior
circulation was not altered, retaining the feel of a historic school. The apartments were completed in the
summer of 2017. The beautiful buildings of the Old St. Mary’s parish provide a supportive and
humanizing setting for transforming lives. The building is now called Francis Apartments in honor of the Franciscan nuns who taught at St. Mary’s School for over 140 years.
Project: Downtown Walnut Facades
Walnut, Iowa is a town in western Iowa about an hour from Des Moines and about an hour from
Omaha. A recent survey identified a potential historic district that may include 44 structures with 30
determined to be contributing—for a town with a population of 785, that’s remarkable.
Walnut was awarded CDBG Downtown Revitalization Façade Rehabilitation Program grant and the
project included work at 16 participating properties. Of these, all but one was determined to be a
contributing resource within a potential NRHP Historic District.
Walnut’s downtown is, effectively, a one block main street. The age of the participating buildings
varied from the early 1880’s through 1915-25. Each of these buildings were transformed by the CDBG
GLENN’S PUB – Which required reconstruction of upper wall and parapet. This building had
concealed structural problems which could have been dangerous. In addition to brick repair, Glen’s
receive a new storefront system, and painting.
AFFORDABLE HEATING & AIR is a late 19th Century Contributing resource that required
masonry repair and restoration, carpentry repairs, installation of new wood-framed storefront system
with transoms, and painting. This once foreboding building is now inviting and has a historically
The WALNUT CREEK MUSEUM –Is a 1911 Contributing resource. This is an example of
building that was in fair condition before; however, the face program help address several deferred
maintenance issues like masonry restoration, upper story window repair/restoration, and painting. Oh,
and that awning is gone
STG GAMES – This late 19th Century building, amount other things, needed structural repairs
at column bases. Facade Projects are uniquely challenging because, in addition to the challenges with
historic preservation, these projects include multiple stakeholders, including each of the individual
participating property owners. Walnut known as Iowa’s Antique City – successfully turned their tired-
looking main street into a source of pride for this rural community.
Sustainability in Preservation:
Project: Catholic Pastoral Center
After a nationwide search, Home Federal Savings & Loan leaders selected the modernist
master architect, Mies van der Rohe to design the their bank. Mies’ 1962 design for the Home Federal
building sets it back from the busy street corner to create a granite-paved open plaza. The tinted glass
curtain wall suspends on black steel columns over a clear glass recessed first story. The materials
seamlessly flow from exterior to interior, with everything carefully aligned within the Miesian grid.
In 1990 the bank failed and went into receivership. When demolition threatened the building,
architecture and art lovers from around the world wrote letters to the City of Des Moines and Iowa State Historic Preservation Office successfully convincing Des Moines that the building was a masterpiece of modern architecture and should be saved.
By 2014, the original black painted exterior steel façade had dramatically faded to a chalky gray.
Paint was peeling and the steel was showing signs of rust. Exterior travertine wall panels were cracked,
broken, or shifted out of their original position. The original 1⁄4” plate glass windows were still present
throughout the building; however, they were failing and had been altered with a Tinted film. The out-of-date mechanical systems were operating nearly 50% below energy code requirements.
The ethos of the design team was that the renovation should rehabilitate Mies van der Rohe’s
original design with enhancements as required for safety and function while using the lightest possible
touch. All exterior glass was replaced with high-strength laminated glass in rebuilt stops and new
sealant to provide improved thermal performance while maintaining the original appearance. The
exterior walls were stripped and repainted.
Most of the original plumbing fixtures were retained although restrooms were renovated to meet
current building code and accessibility requirements. Upgrades to heating and cooling systems
included retrofitting the original heaters. The original characteristic “eggcrate” light fixtures used
throughout the building were cleaned, refinished, and retrofitted with new LED lamps. These
improvements brought the building into compliance with current energy code requirements. Funding:
State Historic Tax Credits and private donors
Martha Hayes Award for Preservationist of the Year:
Individual: Ruth Ann Van Donslear
Ruth Ann attended Baker County School Number 5 in O’Brien County. This school, like many in
the state of Iowa in the 1930s and 1940s was an example of Iowa’s unique and successful system of
rural township schools. Because this system is long gone, she wanted to make a video about the
school and its students. After discussing her dream with another woman who had made a video of this
type – Ruth did what Iowans do—she got to work.
She contacted and arranged for former Baker School students to be in a video. Because many
student who attended the Baker School would now be 76 years old or older—filming was challenge.
Many of students had left the area and had to travel. Sadly, one of the students died before the filming
reinforcing the need for recording the original voices and memories of those who were educated in one
of Iowa’s one-room schools.
Ruth didn’t know how to make a digital video; however, that didn’t stop her. She contacted Mark
Volkers of Dordt University arranging for his media department to make the video. Ruth paid the media
team with her own money.
On May 18, 2018 Mark Volkers and his team film the Sheldon school park and the eight
participants. The park had been prepared with a clean-up day and new signage.
This film has won the Gold Hermes Creative Award in a National Competition for digital films.
Group: Save Cedar Rapids Heritage
Since its inception in 2012, Save Cedar Rapids Heritage has worked to preserve historic
buildings through awareness and action. The young organization has since been active in advocacy,
educational, and hands-on work on behalf of historic properties, with a long list of achievements.
In January 2016, Save CR Heritage nominated the Knutson Building to Preservation Iowa’s list
of most endangered properties. This listing helped serve as a rallying cry for the building, which
ultimately was saved and restored. The group also has raised awareness about pending demolitions leading to community engagement and creative solutions—like moving the White Elephant building, a contributing structure in the Bohemian Commercial Historic District.
When Cedar Rapids targeted a historic park bridge for removal, Save CR Heritage again raised awareness.
Not all efforts result in “saves.” The group organized a tribute to the historic Bever Building in the downtown historic district when owners decided to demolish the building and two others in the historic district.
Despite frigid temperatures, the demonstration was well attended and received widespread media coverage, with hopes of preventing more demolitions in the district and city.
Throughout 2016 and into 2017, board members volunteered on rehabbing the “Frankie House,” an 1880s home the group moved to save it from demolition. Collaborating with the city of Cedar Rapids and others, it was completed in spring 2017 and was sold as affordable housing. The project was hands-on, serving as an educational tool about window rehab and more.
As historic tax credits came under fire under federal tax reform proposals, Save CR Heritage organized a tour to showcase the Paramount Theater and other sites that used tax credits to the benefit of the city, residents and visitors.
This winter, Save CR Heritage organized a community conversation about the Cedar Rapids School District’s plan to close eight elementary schools and demolish 10 others.
The Group’s CR Hearts Tour in February shined a spotlight on buildings flooded in 2008 that made a comeback in the Czech Villiage/New Bohemia Main Street District. Partnering with Main Street, volunteers told the buildings’ histories to tour-goers followed by a social hour to continue the conversation.
Save CR Heritage’s board and volunteers, a diverse group of engineers, historians, architects, journalists, retirees and others of all ages, continues to grow to promote preservation efforts.