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Cherokee adds three properties to National Register of Historic Places

May 21, 2020
Cherokee might be the center of the historic preservation universe.

The small northwest Iowa community has added three houses to the National Register of Historic Places – the Boughton and Seaman houses for their architectural significance in two different styles, and the Gillette House for its most prominent resident.

“Congratulations to all who worked so hard to successfully nominate these properties to the National Register of Historic Places,” State Historian Laura Sadowsky said. “This recognition marks an important milestone for Cherokee as it continues to preserve its history for future generations."

Boughton House (1891)
Known for its Queen Anne-style architecture, the Lemuel C. and Mary (Vaughn) Boughton House has an impressive façade that features cottage bay windows, a central pyramidal-roof with projecting gabled bay windows and decorative details under the eaves. Other than the replacement of the original porch in 1910, few of these features have changed.

The house's interior also remains true to the original style, with decorative staircase railings and newel post and paneled doors. Robust molded baseboards run throughout the house and many doors are surrounded by fluted jambs and bull’s-eye corner blocks. Upstairs, transoms hover over bedroom doors.

There are several houses in Cherokee that hold true to the Queen Anne style, but few are more architecturally elaborate than the Boughton House. The house also stands out due to its decorative concrete block porch and historic iron fence along the sidewalk, according to the nomination form.

Gillette House (circa 1898)
The Guy M. and Rose (Freeman) Gillette House is historically significant for the time U.S. Sen. Guy M. Gillette spent there with his family. The senator used the home as office space – the living room, a bedroom and the enclosed porch – to connect with constituents and participate in political and service activities while the senate was in recess.

He also used his home as a base to give public presentations, back political candidates and work on numerous boards and committees, such as the Agriculture and Forestry Committee and the Foreign Relations and Naval Affairs Committee.

Gillette did the majority of his most important work for the senate while living in the house, according to the nomination form. He also lived there while serving as president of the American League for a Free Palestine. After losing two campaigns for the senate, Gillette continued to work from his home in community, state and federal politics.

Seaman House (circa 1913)
A strong representative of the Craftsman-style bungalow, the Roy C. and Lena (Johnson) Seaman House retains many of its original features, including a prominent, broad, moderately pitched side-gable roof that extends over a full-width front porch. The exterior reveals decorative rafter tails, shed-roofed dormer windows, decorative stone veneers, a prominent exterior chimney and multi-light over single-light window sash.

The interior also features a number of characteristics that remain true to the Craftsman style, including much of the original woodwork throughout the house finished in varnish and a decorative brick fireplace. In the living and dining rooms, faux timbers extend across the ceilings and a colonnade with built-in cabinets and squat-battered square piers span the two rooms.

The Seaman house is one of many fine examples of the Craftsman style in Cherokee, but this house stands out in particular for its intricate design and extensive use of decorative field or river stone in the porch and chimney, reflecting the emphasis on natural building materials in the Craftsman style.

The National Register of Historic Places program is facilitated in Iowa by a partnership between the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Office, which is overseen by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. More information is available at

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.