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State Historical Society of Iowa

Des Moines, Grinnell Projects Receive State's Top Historic Preservation Awards

Sep 6, 2018

DES MOINES – The Equitable Building and Oscar Lofquist House in Des Moines and the Spaulding Lofts in Grinnell received the state's highest honors for historic preservation during an awards ceremony recently in Waterloo.

The projects received a Preservation Project of Merit award from the State Historic Preservation Office for best practices in historic preservation, using the state's historic preservation tax credit program and meeting the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings. The awards ceremony was co-hosted by Preservation Iowa.

"The preservation of Iowa's historic buildings not only honors the past, it also helps communities retain the unique and authentic qualities that make them great places to live and work and raise a family," said Steve King, the deputy state historic preservation officer. "We are very pleased to recognize these projects and their owners for the work they've done to help preserve Iowa history."

The projects honored this year were completed between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. More information about this year's Preservation Project of Merit award recipients follows:

William J. Wagner Award

Recognizes the historic preservation project that best exemplifies use of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation

Equitable Building
Des Moines, Iowa

The 23-story, Late Gothic Equitable Building has been an important landmark for Des Moines since it was built in 1924. Designed by the preeminent architectural firm Proudfoot, Bird and Rawson, the building was the home of the Equitable Life Insurance Company of Iowa. Undertaking this sensitive rehabilitation, the owner has preserved the historic materials of the building, including terra cotta ornamentation, granite, plaster ceilings, lighting fixtures and marble stairs. The building now contains 20,000 square feet of commercial space and 147 residential units, bringing foot traffic and human activity back into the building, which had been largely vacant for many years. This project is marked by the owner's high attention to detail and the sensitive adaptation of an office building into multi-family housing. The review committee commends the owner for the careful rehabilitation of this landmark and returning it to full occupancy.

Judith A. McClure Award

Recognizes outstanding preservation of a residential property

Oscar Lofquist House
Des Moines, Iowa

This Colonial Revival style residence, originally the home of Oscar Lofquist, a prominent Des Moines tailor, is a contributing building in Des Moines’ Greenwood Park Historic District. Over the years, the house had been divided into apartments, damaged by termites and then left empty for several years. The owner has returned the house to a single-family residence, preserving the exterior limestone and historic floor plan and also installing new electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems. The review committee commends the owner for rescuing this important house and for contributing to the local economy by employing local contractors and purchasing building materials locally.

Margaret Keyes Award

Recognizes outstanding historic preservation of a project with total qualified costs of more than $500,000.

Spaulding Lofts
Grinnell, Iowa

Spaulding Lofts is located in a complex once owned by Spaulding Manufacturing, a company that manufactured carriages, wagons and, in the early 20th century, automobiles. This formerly blighted building had been boarded up and covered with graffiti and had an exterior wall in danger of collapsing. Through this rehabilitation, the owner has preserved the industrial qualities of the property, including the brick load-bearing walls as well as the heavy timber construction, large fire doors, and interior cart rails that were common in manufacturing buildings of this period. This project is a model example of a quality rehabilitation designed to meet a mid-sized city’s demand for mixed-income housing. The State Historic Preservation Office is overseen by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

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.