The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs today announced 17 projects and individuals in 14 Iowa communities received the state’s highest honors for historic preservation during the 2022 Preserve Iowa Summit held last week in Mason City.
Mason City provided the perfect backdrop for this year’s conference, which highlighted numerous architecturally significant properties in and around the community, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Park Inn Hotel, the 1939 Egloff House and the Rock Glen/Rock Crest Historic District.
The community’s architectural history is so strong, Conde Naste Traveler listed it as one of the world’s 20 best cities for architecture lovers, along with Miami, Paris and Dubai. The department has also designated Mason City as an Iowa Great Place, and its downtown area as a Cultural & Entertainment District.
“Mason City has done a fantastic job of incorporating its architecture, history, art and culture into its creative placemaking,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “Those efforts serve residents, draw tourists from around the world, and build a foundation for future generations to enjoy. It’s easy to see why its leaders and residents have so much pride in their community.”
The summit, presented annually by the department’s State Historic Preservation Office, is the state of Iowa’s premier conference for professionals and volunteers involved in historic preservation.
During the awards ceremony on Thursday, the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Board of Trustees awarded four projects – in Bettendorf, Council Bluffs, Davenport and Mason City – 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 board also presented Leah Rogers of Mount Vernon with the Petersen-Harlan Lifetime Achievement Award for her 40-year career in historic preservation, scholarly research and educational outreach programs.
“We are delighted to honor our award recipients for their accomplishments in preserving Iowa’s historic properties,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. “Their efforts ensure that these properties will continue to be highly valued community assets now and into the future.”
In addition, the nonprofit group Preservation Iowa presented 12 awards for “Preservation at its Best” in Bloomfield, Centerville, Des Moines, Dubuque, Keosauqua, Mt. Pleasant, Newton, Red Oak and Sioux City. The annual awards honor properties and educational efforts that meet the highest standards of preservation practices.
“Preservation Iowa is thrilled to honor the people and projects that truly demonstrate preservation’s power to change the future,” Preservation Iowa board president Bruce Perry said. “These awards honor thousands of volunteer hours and more than $120 million of investment in Iowa’s economy. Without the combination of private funding, historic tax credits, grant awards, and public dollars, projects like these would be impossible.”
The list of this year’s award recipients follows:
State Historical Society of Iowa
Preservation Project of Merit Awards
This award recognizes outstanding preservation of a smaller historic preservation project that uses tax credits from State Historic Preservation and Cultural & Entertainment District programs. The award is named for a highly regarded archaeologist who helped found Iowa’s State Historic Preservation Office and served as its first leader.
Originally constructed in 1873, the one-room Forest Grove School was meticulously rehabilitated to the period of the 1920s. The project has brought new interest in nearby housing and was chronicled in a 60-minute documentary, “Resurrecting Forest Grove,” which will premiere later this year.
This award recognizes outstanding preservation of a larger historic preservation project that uses tax credits from State Historic Preservation and Cultural & Entertainment District programs. The award is named for a nationally recognized historic preservationist who led the restoration of the Old Capitol in Iowa City.
Built in 1894, the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company originally served as a farm-implement warehouse. After an extensive renovation spearheaded by Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment (PACE), the building is now the Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center, with nearly 95,000-square-feet that houses a 280-seat theater, rehearsal and exhibition spaces, artist studios, teaching kitchens, classrooms and more. By the end of 2023, the building is expected to serve more than 54,000 patrons annually with an estimated $4.6 million impact on the local economy.
This award recognizes the historic preservation project that best exemplifies the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation while using State Historic Preservation and Cultural & Entertainment District Tax Credit Program incentives. The award is named in honor of a preservation architect who worked on such projects as Terrace Hill, Salisbury House and the Dallas County Courthouse.
Designed by John C. Cochrane, the Lambrite-Iles-Petersen House is one of the most architecturally and historically significant residential structures in Davenport. Its restoration has generated a boom in rehabilitation of houses in the Gold Coast-Hamburg neighborhood and injected more than $500,000 into the local economy.
This award recognizes outstanding preservation of a residential property using State Historic Preservation and Cultural & Entertainment District Tax Credit Program incentives.
Built in 1938-39, the Egloff House incorporates parts of three contemporary styles from the period: Art Moderne, Art Deco, and International styles that emerged following World War I. The house contains several classic elements of Streamline International architecture and is one of the style’s few remaining examples in the United States. In 2008, after a flood damaged the house, volunteers successfully moved it to its current location between the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Historic Park Inn and the Rock Crest/Rock Glen Historic District.
Petersen-Harlan Lifetime Achievement Award
Recipient: Leah Rogers, Mount Vernon
The lifetime achievement award is named for William “Steamboat Bill” Petersen, one of the society’s longtime curators, and Edgar Harlan, another curator and director who played a key role in building the artifact collections at the State Historical Museum of Iowa.
Leah Rogers started her career in the 1980s, working on archaeological digs across the country while attending graduate school at Michigan State University. Later, she worked with archaeology firms in Illinois and Iowa before striking out on her own as a consultant, conducting archaeological and historic architectural investigations. Since then, she has written or contributed to nearly 200 reports (roughly one in 11) in the State Historic Preservation Office’s Historic Architectural Database. Her name also appears on more than 240 reports in Arizona State University’s National Archaeological Database, and she has prepared nearly 100 nominations for the National Register of Historic Places. Rogers has taught workshops, developed youth summer camps and led community-based archaeological surveys across Iowa. She also worked with Indigenous nations in Iowa and collaborated with the Ho-Chunk Nation to identify key historical sites near Fort Atkinson. A few years ago, she successfully rallied support to rename a Linn County park in honor of the late Adeline Wanatee, a Meskwaki artist and advocate for Indigenous and women’s rights.
Preservation at its Best Awards
Adaptive Re-use and Sustainability in Preservation Award
Project: Dupaco Voices Building, Dubuque
Owned by Dupaco Community Credit Union, the 175,000-square-foot building was built in 1925 and is a contributing structure to the Millwork National Historic District in Dubuque. The $38 million project transformed the vacant warehouse, occasionally used as a venue for a community art event called “Voices from the Warehouse District,” into a financial operations center. The project made careful reuse of materials and maintained safe construction during the Covid-19 pandemic. Over 250 exterior windows had to be replaced. The original windows were reused throughout the building. Beams and columns were reused for the grand staircase. Roof replacement with reclaimed beams allowed a roof deck and a roof monitor.
Community Effort in Preservation Award
Project: “Puttin’ Back the Ritz,” Centerville
Owned by Walldog Public Art, the Ritz Theater is located on the historic Centerville square and has been undergoing restoration since 2001. A Main Street Challenge Grant in 2020 spurred the community to unite its resources to do masonry work, reinforce the walls and repair the ceiling and electrical system. Today the theater section has been transformed into an education center. The nearly $195,000 project received financial support from community organizations, businesses, and individuals as well as donated hours by volunteers and local contractors.
Large Commercial Award
Project: Warrior–Davidson/Warrior Hotel, Sioux City
Owned by Restoration St. Louis, the 10-story Warrior Hotel was built in 1930, served as a hotel until 1972 and then was vacant for 40 years. It was redeveloped in 2020 with a $72 million investment including State Historic Tax Credits. The hotel now offers 146 rooms, including full-service amenities with a restaurant, bar, exercise centers, hotel lobby, ballroom, banquet kitchen and commercial retail space. Careful attention to detail and preservation standards has created a catalyst for Sioux City’s downtown redevelopment.
Martha Hayes Preservationist of the Year Award
Recipient: Michael D. Gibson, Dubuque
For 37 years, Michael Gibson served as a leader and archivist of the Center for Dubuque History at Loras College. He helped build the archive center into an invaluable resource and institution for both the Key City and the state of Iowa. Gibson is recognized for his legacy of training future generations of preservationists combined with decades of preservation leadership. This award is named in honor of a long-time preservation advocate and founding member of what is now Preservation Iowa.
Maurice Losely Sacred Place Award
Project: Steeple Square Event Center, Dubuque
This $8 million preservation project, which included State and Federal Historic Tax Credits, turned the former St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubuque into Steeple Square, a magnificent event center that has welcomed more than 50,000 people since 2016, promoting investment, revenue through programming, and neighborhood pride. Over the past six years, this project has successfully injected $15 million into low‐income areas, brought light and activity back to a largely darkened campus of buildings, created living wage jobs for community members, reduced slum and blight, and increased property values. This award is named for a generous benefactor to Preservation Iowa.
Maurice Losely Sacred Place Award
Project: Steeple Square Stained Glass Restoration, Dubuque
Steeple Square also developed an innovative program that has trained local residents in stained-glass and wood window restoration at the former St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubuque. As churches in vulnerable neighborhoods close, they leave a void of vacant buildings and the loss of social services, educational opportunities and cultural experiences. This project took more time than hiring a company; however, the community benefits from training more than 30 young people and artisans to develop local capacity.
Non-Profit Preservation Award
Project: Hoyt Sherman Place Mansion Restoration, Des Moines
Built in 1877, the Hoyt Sherman Place Mansion in Des Moines has seen many changes over the years. In March 2020, the site’s new Center for Artists and Education closed for 16 months due to COVID-19. Instead of putting employees on furlough, the Hoyt Sherman Place Foundation board and CEO put them to work on a $1.1 million restoration project that restored the mansion’s historic elements and made the museum’s second floor publicly accessible for the first time.
Paula Mohr Certified Local Government of the Year Award
Recipient: Paula Mohr, Keosauqua
During her tenure at the State Historic Preservation Office, Paula Mohr worked closely with each of Iowa’s Certified Local Governments to develop an unparalleled state-wide grassroots preservation effort that became a model for many other states. She is both the award’s namesake and first recipient, recognizing her invaluable contributions to Iowa’s CLG Program and to historic preservation locally, statewide, regionally and nationally. She currently operates her own consulting firm in Keosauqua.
Residential (Single-Family) Structure Award
Project: Dearborn House, Red Oak
With just a single historic photo and some correspondence from the original homeowner’s family, the home’s current owner, Cecelia Lock, and her project team began a complete renovation of the exterior after a hail storm in March of 2020. They used insurance money and private funds to remove aluminum window wraps, screens, downspouts and vinyl siding; restore the original cedar siding; and rebuild two porches to return this Red Oak home to its former glory.
Small Commercial Award
Project: Viet-Thai Taste, Newton
This project is recognized for retaining a sense of place and feeling of an old garage while transforming the building into a new restaurant, Viet-Thai Taste.The $750,000 investment
included State and Federal Historic Tax Credits and a Main Street Challenge Grant. Windows, tall ceilings and other fixtures that once provided light, space and air for auto mechanic work now populate a light, airy, modern dining room. Since opening in 2020, Viet-Thai Taste has introduced many locals to their first taste of Southeast Asian cuisine.
Small Commercial Award
Project: The Fenton, Bloomfield
Built in 1957, this mid-century building originally served as a state-of-the-art medical facility. In July 2020, the Goodhill Company purchased the steel-frame structure and repurposed it as an office space, adding more than a dozen executive leaders and marketing professionals jobs to downtown Bloomfield. Goodhill Company invested $750,000 and received Main Street Iowa design assistance for an adaptive reuse plan to preserve original elements such as the main hallway; the “Space Age”-inspired, round receptionist’s desk; original paneling throughout; terrazzo floors; and glass block transoms surrounding the building.
Special Projects Award
Project: “The Rural Schools of Henry County, Iowa,” Mt. Pleasant
Created by the Henry County Historic Preservation Commission, “The Rural Schools of Henry County, Iowa” was assembled by volunteers after almost three years of intensive work.
Funded by previous book sales, the commission has published a comprehensive book that covers 100 years of rural public education in Henry County, from the 1850s to the 1950s.
The 2022 Preserve Iowa Summit is coordinated by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office, the city of Mason City and the Mason City Historic Preservation Commission. It’s funded in part by the National Park Service, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Preservation Iowa was created in 1991 to support, broaden and strengthen the statewide constituency for preservation in Iowa; to educate public and private policymakers who affect historic preservation issues at the national, state and local levels; to develop and implement strategies for ensuring the preservation of individual and collective sites and structure of cultural significance to Iowa; and to work in partnership with national, state and local agencies and organizations whose activities impact historic resources. preservationiowa.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the interim Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.