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State Historical Society of Iowa announces top awards for historic preservation

Jun 4, 2021

From an archaeological site in Woodbury County to a historic school in Davenport, 11 projects in seven communities were honored with Iowa's highest awards for historic preservation during this year’s Preserve Iowa Summit. The annual conference is presented by the State Historic Preservation Office, which is part of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

During the awards ceremony on Thursday, the State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees awarded two projects in Des Moines and two in Davenport with a Preservation Project of Merit Award, which recognizes projects that exemplify the best practices of historic preservation, meet federal standards, and make use of state tax credits for historic preservation.

The historical society also honored successful efforts to stabilize a prehistoric site on the Little Sioux River near Anthon and to rehabilitate historic facades on the Winterset square.

“These awards celebrate the dedicated, creative professionals and volunteers who save and adapt Iowa’s historic properties for a new era,” said Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa. “Their work creates new economic opportunities and promotes a real sense of community pride.”

In addition, the nonprofit group Preservation Iowa presented its Preservation At Its Best Awards in five categories during the same ceremony. These annual awards honor properties and educational efforts that meet the highest standards of preservation practices.

“Iowans across the state can take pride in this year’s winning projects,” said Bruce Perry, president of Preservation Iowa’s board of directors. “All are fine examples of historic preservation that serve as models for future preservation work in Iowa and beyond.”

The list of this year’s award recipients follows:

State Historical Society of Iowa

Preservation Project of Merit Awards

Judith A. McClure Award
Recipient: Davidson House, Des Moines
This award recognizes outstanding preservation of a residential property using State Historic Preservation Tax Credits.

Built around 1903, the Louis Davidson House is located in the Riverview Park Plat Historic District north of downtown Des  Moines. This project preserved the home’s original exterior wood siding and details, windows, interior wood floors, plaster walls and ceilings, and beautiful wood built-ins, increasing the property’s value from $112,900 to $220,600.

Adrian D. Anderson Award
Recipient: Peter Lampe House, Davenport
This award recognizes outstanding preservation of a small historic preservation project using State Historic Preservation Tax Credits, with total qualified costs of $750,000 or less.

Davenport’s Peter Lampe House, built in the 1850s, perches on a hill in the Village of East Davenport Historic District and once served as a boarding house for railroad travelers. The rehabilitation project stabilized the building and included the installation of well crafted cabinetry and wood floors, which serve its new purpose as a tasting room for the Wide River Winery.

Margaret Keyes Award
Recipient: Home Federal Savings and Loan Association of Des Moines Building, Des Moines
This award recognizes outstanding preservation of a large historic preservation project using State Historic Preservation Tax Credits, with total qualified costs of more than $750,000.

The 1962 Home Federal Savings and Loan Association of Des Moines Building was designed by the influential Modernist architect Mies van der Rohe, who modeled it after his 1958 Seagram Building in New York. The Des Moines building was deeded in 1992 to the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, which plans to continue using it as the Catholic Pastoral Center for years to come, thanks to the recent rehabilitation that honors the architect’s original vision.

William J. Wagner Award
Recipient: Buchanan School, Davenport
This award recognizes the historic preservation project which best exemplifies use of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation while using State Historic Preservation Tax Credits.

Completed in 1904, Buchanan School was part of Davenport’s school building boom at the turn of the 20th century. By 2014, the building had fallen into extreme disrepair and was literally on the brink of collapse and condemnation. The recent preservation project saved the beautiful historic building and adapted it for new use as senior housing called the Naval Station Apartments. 

Excellence in Archaeology and Historic Preservation Award
Recipient: Dixon Site Riverbank Stabilization Project, Woodbury County
This award recognizes the best archaeology or preservation project at the local or state level.

This Dixon Site project, located on the Little Sioux River near Anthon, put an end to riverbank erosion at the site of a prehistoric Oneota village and successfully stabilized Iowa Highway 31. The award recognizes the project’s many contributors, including the Iowa Department of Transportation and eight Native American tribes, for their collaborative work in accordance with state and federal laws concerning historic preservation.

Certificate of Merit: Winterset Facade Rehabilitation Project, Madison County

This five-year project, completed in 2020, resulted in exterior improvements to 17 buildings in the Winterset Courthouse Historic District in Madison County. 

Preservation Iowa

Preservation at its Best Awards

Best Community Effort Award
Recipient: Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center/McCormick Harvesting Company Building, Council Bluffs

Pottawattamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment (PACE) spearheaded the transformation of this historic warehouse. The new center opened in spring 2020 and features a theater, culinary arts kitchen for food entrepreneurs, teaching kitchen, exhibit gallery, dance studios, artist studios, classrooms and more.

Best Adaptive Use Award
Recipient: East Des Moines Union Depot/Des Moines Heritage Center

This historic train depot in Des Moines’ East Village now serves as the Des Moines Heritage Center. The project saved the building from demolition in a rapidly redeveloping area where land is becoming very valuable.

Special Project Award
Recipient: Honoring Black History in Iowa City

This virtual project builds on two National Register of Historic Places properties associated with Black history in Iowa known as the Iowa Federation Home and the Tate Arms. During the early 20th century, both of these buildings housed Black students at the University of Iowa at a time when they were barred from dormitories and had limited housing options due to racial discrimination.

Sustainability in Preservation Award
Recipient: Naval Station Apartments, LLC (Buchanan School), Davenport

The Buchanan School project (which also won an award from the State Historical Society of Iowa) not only saved the building from collapse, but transformed it into the Naval Station Apartments that feature historic charm and modern amenities. The installation of an extensive stormwater management system led to other improvements in both public infrastructure and privately owned homes in the neighborhood.

Best Commercial Award
Recipient: St. Kilda Collective, West Des Moines

Built in 1916 as a modern auto dealership and garage, the 7,200-square-foot Valley Auto-Morgan Auto Co. Garage Building is one of just a few local surviving auto-related buildings from the World War I era. It now houses St. Kilda Collective, a popular restaurant, bakery and event space.

More information about the awards is available at and

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.