Tribute to Bever Building planned before historic building is demolished
Supporters of our city’s historic buildings will join together to bid farewell to a significant page in the story of Cedar Rapids. A recognition of the Bever Building will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Monday, April 9, 2018, in the 400 block of First Avenue SE.
Constructed in 1923, the Bever Building, 417 First Ave. SE, is slated to be demolished along with two other structures in the Downtown Historic District to make way for a new development by Skogman Partnership.
The historic district designation offers tax credits and other incentives to rehabilitate buildings, but no protection from demolition. Named for the Bever & Co. investment firm, the building represented another generation of the Bever family in Cedar Rapids, following in the footsteps of patriarch and early city leader, Sampson Bever, for which Bever Park is named.
Steeped in family and Cedar Rapids history, the Bever Building was constructed to last, with reinforced concrete, front brick with Bedford-cut stone trim, marble in the main hall and stairway, and rooms trimmed in mahogany.
The State Historic Preservation Office noted the demolition of the Bever Building, along with the neighboring Faulkes Building and a former service station, will weaken that end of the Downtown Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.
Such decisions are not confined to this generation. In the 1950s, Skogmans demolished a depot next to the building Skogman Realty has most recently occupied, which had been headquarters of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway. While smaller in size than the Union Station, which was demolished in downtown Cedar Rapids in 1961 and often cited as the poster child of short-sighted decisions, the BCR&N depot was said to be equally impressive.
Save CR Heritage, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of our city’s historic buildings and advocating to restore and reuse these properties as businesses and unique assets for our community.
Lately, this has been a challenge, with the demolition of a contributing structure in the Cedar Rapids Automobile Row Historic District by the MedQ and pending demolitions of a historic Josselyn & Taylor-designed mansion for PCI parking and others to be replaced along First Avenue. Using taxpayer dollars, city and state financial incentives have been granted for developments such as these; in essence, subsidizing the demolition of our city’s heritage.
Cedar Rapids lost more than 1,200 buildings after the devastating 2008 flood, but all of these buildings were spared, only to be torn down for the sake of “development.”
We believe that needs to change, beginning with incentives offered for historic preservation.
Our CR Hearts Tourearlier this year of historic properties in New Bohemia highlighted the contributions these buildings make in increasing property values, offering unique destinations and creating vibrant, local economies.
The public is invited to attend the April 9 demonstration and bring signs to show their support, before more architectural gems like the Bever Building are lost.
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!