Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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The Globe Gazette|
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Saturday, May 22, 2010
by Kristin Buehner
MASON CITY -- As demolition of Mason City flood buyout properties begins, one neighborhood stands to take a major hit.
The section of town platted in 1910 as the East Park Place Addition will lose about 41 houses as a result of the 2008 flood damage. Removal of the houses in this area is not scheduled until at least the fall, said Pam MYHRE, Mason City director of growth planning and development.
"An architectural historian looked at all the flood buildings and evaluated every structure," MYHRE said. "They identified that (demolition) would be impacting historic resources."
Affected areas also included the neighborhood around 11th Street Northeast, the Forest Park area and other buildings scattered throughout the city, MYHRE said. "East Park Place was the largest district she identified. Unfortunately, we're practically taking the entire district."
Mason City had one of the highest numbers of historic buildings affected by the flood in the state, second only to Waverly, MYHRE said.
The architects' findings were contained in a "Historical and Architectural Reconnaissance Survey for 2008 Flood Projects," dated March 2009. The survey, which evaluated properties for their architectural and historic significance, is required by the federal government whenever there is a federal disaster response and potential demolition, MYHRE said.
The East Park Place Addition runs from East Park north to the south side of Ninth St. Northeast/Birch Drive; and from North Carolina Avenue to the edge of East Park east of North Hampshire Avenue. The affected houses include 13 houses on Seventh Street Northeast; nine houses each on North Carolina Place and North Hampshire Avenue; 7 houses on North Carolina Avenue; and three houses on Eighth Street Northeast.
Styles include Tudor revival, Prairie School, derivative Tudor or English period cottages, Colonial revival, Cape Cod, ranch-rambler, craftsman bungalow and one international design — the William and Margaret EGLOFF house. Many were constructed between World War I and World War II.
The city is not giving up hope that some of the structures can be saved "if we can prove that moving them is no more expensive than demolishing them," MYHRE said.
That includes the EGLOFF house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The city is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to do a feasibility study, MYHRE said. "The goal is to move it and save it, if possible."
However, hopes of the area ever being designated as a historic district have been dashed.
"The state's survey indicated that it would be eligible, ... but because most of the structures are going to be removed we will not be nominating it," said Tricia SANDAHL, city planner and flood plain administrator.
The Globe Gazette
David EGLOFF, 75, of Woods Hole, Mass., grew up in the East Park Place Addition in a house that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A retired biologist, EGLOFF was not yet 5 when his parents, Dr. William and Margaret EGLOFF, moved into their brand-new house, at 655 Seventh St. N.E. He lived in the neighborhood from 1937 to 1951.
"My parents were renting the house at 671 Seventh N.E. when they learned six lots — three on the street and three on the river immediately adjacent to the west — were for sale," he said. "The opportunity to have a home on a full acre of land in a good neighborhood was attractive to them, plus they were able to live next door and observe its construction on a daily basis. And I got to play on the dirt piles created by the excavations for the basement."
The unusual 3,300-square-foot house received special notice in the Globe Gazette when it was built and that has continued through the years, EGLOFF said.
In the 1940s and 1950s, William and Margaret EGLOFF hosted many parties. Some were for adults and some, such as the annual Christmas parties, were for adults and children. The children would look out a window on the ground floor of the house to see Santa, who would emerge from the direction of the river, across the snow-covered lawn, through the evergreen trees. He would enter the house ringing jingle bells and carrying a bag full of toys over his back.
"My father created the lighting of Santa in a spotlight as he crossed the lawn (from the river) and flamboyant light displays in the front of the house," EGLOFF recalled.
Margaret EGLOFF gave each child five shiny new pennies in a dainty ribbon-tied bag. Christmas cookies were served.
In his years there, the Winnebago River would occasionally spill into the backyards of the homes on the south side of Seventh Street, EGLOFF said, "but rarely long enough to cause any damage to lawns or to exceed the capacity of basement sump pumps."
Dr. William EGLOFF died in 1958. Margaret EGLOFF lived in the home until her death in 1996. The house was subsequently purchased by Dr. Dale and Susan ARMSTRONG.
He remembers playing basketball with David EGLOFF at the EGLOFF house and a neighboring house, the Bob FINLAYSON home, at 705 N. Hampshire Ave.
"We played touch football on a vacant lot that my dad owned on Ninth Street and we played 'Army' in the woods behind the FINLAYSON house, where I gather there is now a swimming pool."
MYLI, who graduated from Mason City High School in 1953 and the University of Iowa in 1957, lived at 639 Ninth N.E., starting in the late 1930's. In 1949, his father, Kermit, built a larger Cape Cod-style house for his family on an empty lot next door, at 645 Ninth N.E. Vacant lots lined most of the north side of Ninth Street in those days.
"Back then, some of the streets in the neighborhood were still gravel roads," MYLI said. "Every summer all the men on our street would get together and hook up a barrel of oil to a section of pipe with holes drilled in it, put this rig on a trailer and then go up and down Ninth Street spreading the oil to hold down the dust from the gravel in the street," MYLI said. "Oil must have been pretty cheap in those days because they would go through several barrels of it." MYLI was only 12 when he witnessed a tragic accident as he and other boys rode their bicycles home from the YMCA. They were crossing the railroad tracks on Fourth Street Northeast when one of the younger boys lost control of his bike when a dump truck came around the corner. He hit his head on the hub of one of the truck’s back tires and was killed instantly.
His death "really devastated the neighborhood," MYLI said.
"It was just a nice little part of town," she said of the neighborhood. "You could walk downtown or ride your bike. We all played together in anybody’s yard."
One of the houses, at 678 Seventh St. N.E., was the parsonage for First Baptist Church in those days. The Von BUSCH family lived there at that time, HUGO said.
In 1963, Zoe and her husband, John, a carpenter, purchased their current house at 832 N. Carolina Ave., near the neighborhood she grew up in. They moved in with their three young children.
"We were looking for something that could be fixed up," she said. "We found this house and it had all this land (extending to the river). We knew that that was important for kids."
"It was a fantastic neighborhood, very quiet," he said. "We walked to Harding school. There wasn't much beyond 12th Street (Northeast) in those days."
His father, who played basketball for the University of Iowa, turned a concrete slab intended for a garage into a basketball court for his sons and him. It was a popular spot for the boys in the neighborhood, FINLAYSON said.
Behind their house was land owned by the MacNIDER family that people referred to as "the MacNider 40." Several people had gardens there, FINLAYSON recalled.
He also remembered a house, at 671 Seventh St. N.E., most recently owned by Tom BALLMER and Sally PRESSLY, where Clifford and Mabelle LUNDBERG lived.
"Mrs. LUNDBERG had 59 cats at one time," FINLAYSON said. "I'd come back home late at night and the cats would all be lying out there on the warm pavement."
He recalled one nightwhen he was "feeling foolish," that he picked up one of the cats and threw it in the river. The cat swam right back and climbed out unharmed. But when he turned around, he found Clifford LUNDBERG standing there, watching him.
"He said, 'Throw in some more,'" FINLAYSON said, laughing.
FINLAYSON remembered one other flood, in the late 1940's. His family was staying in a cottage at Clear Lake when someone called his father to tell him there was flooding at home.
"A friend picked him up on North Carolina and took him to our house by boat," FINDLAYSON said. "The flood water was up to the top step in the basement. The only thing it hurt was the old furnace and the washing machine. But that was nothing like the last flood."
"They never had the desire to move any place else," LOCK said.
LOCK lived in the house, which sat on two lots, from 1942 to 1961 and again from 1975 to 1979. It is also on the buyout list.
The house remained in the family until a year or two before his mother's death in 2005.
"I loved it," LOCK said of the neighborhood. "The main meeting place was in the little park. There were kids in that park every day from the time they put that swing up."
"I still like that area," LOCK said. "It hurts to see that house stand empty. That's the only house I ever had."
"I presume they chose it because it was a wooded area by the river," she said. "They had two lots."
Her father, a high school art teacher, helped design the house.
Although the neighborhood had lots of boys, there were some girls, too, PAINE said. They played outdoor games in the summer and built leaf houses at the neighborhood's Oak Park in the fall.
"Winter was fun, too. We had snowball fights, built snow forts and made snow animals."
After her father died, the neighbors helped her mother with the house and stopped by to visit and play cards or dominoes with her, PAINE said.
Her mother lived in the home until 2007.
"I remember it being a very close-knit neighborhood," PAINE said. "We all socialized together, too."
Her mother belonged to three different sewing groups in the neighborhood.
PAINE attended the children's Christmas parties at the EGLOFF house. She referred to the couple as "Aunt Maggie and Uncle Bill." Dr. EGLOFF would come to their house if anyone was sick, she said.
"We lived through a lot of floods in the neighborhood and sometimes there was water in the basement," PAINE said.
But never anything approaching the flood of 2008.
PAINE comes back to Mason City frequently to check on the house and is still cleaning it out. She becomes tearful when speaking of the flood.
"It's devastating because it's a part of life that's gone," she said, her voice breaking. "I loved my house and I loved the neighborhood. A lot of history is going to be gone."
The Globe Gazette
MASON CITY — The most architecturally significant house in the East Park Place neighborhood is the International Style house built in 1939 by Dr. William C. and Margaret EGLOFF, at 655 Seventh St. N.E. The house was designed by St. Paul architect Earle Richard CONE — Margaret EGLOFF'S brother-in-law — and built by Mason City contractor Arne HOLVIK.
Features include a wall of glass block windows on the front of the house, porthole windows, built-in dressers in the bedroom closets and a recreation room made to resemble the inside of a ship — a reflection of Dr. EGLOFF'S service in the Navy.
It had a black smokestack fireplace, rounded corner shelving and an inlaid rubber compass in the floor.
Outer balconies around the second story resembled the deck of a boat.
The five-bedroom home was the first in Mason City to have central air conditioning. It also had an intercom system.
Parquet wood and quarry tile floors, crown molding, Avodire wood wallpaper, a floating ceiling, stone fireplace in the living room, a back stairway and a spiral wrought iron and brass stairway in the front entry are other features.
The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Of 18 other houses deemed architecturally or historically significant by state architectural historians, 10 in the East Park Place Addition are scheduled for removal. They are:
Other homes with architectural significance are:
An additional 43 homes in the East Park Place Addition were designated as contributing to the historic and architectural value of the neighborhood. Only three were not.
The neighborhood is entered from the south near the entrance to East Park, via the North Carolina Avenue Bridge. Originally known as the Stewart Avenue Bridge, it was built in 1914. The concrete-filled spandrel bridge originally had built-in lanterns along its sides.
It, too, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (June 1998).
The Globe Gazette
MASON CITY — Jim and Charlotte LOCHER had a panoramic view of the devastating flood that rolled through their northeastern Mason City neighborhood in June 2008. Their house, at 725 N. Hampshire Ave., was high enough that they did not suffer any flooding from the river, although the basement had some water in it from sewer backup.
"As (the water) continued to rise, there was a sense of disbelief that it was happening," Jim LOCHER said, surveying the neighborhood from his front lawn. "Really, that was just the beginning of the ordeal. Over time the magnitude of this became apparent to everybody — including us. Then I think came the realization that this wasn’t going to go away any time soon."
The LOCHERS are two of the people left behind — residents of the East Park Place Addition who will remain where they are while others around them move out and their homes are torn down.
City officials say demolition in this area will probably not begin until fall 2010, at the earliest. But the out-migration has begun. Nearly half of the houses in this neighborhood will be removed.
The LOCHERS returned from church on Sunday, June 8, 2008, to find water rolling north on North Hampshire Avenue, from the Winnebago River to the south, and gushing down Eighth Street Northeast from the west. They saw neighbors in row boats and others wading in water up to their armpits.
"We have lived across from Oak Park for 25 years," LOCHER said. "Since the flood, there has been a steady movement of people from the neighborhood. Some of the families were living here when we moved in and most had been in the neighborhood for many years. In a sense, we are losing a part of our family."
He noted that September marks the 100th anniversary of the East Park Place Addition, which was platted in 1910.
"This neighborhood will never be the same," LOCHER said. "All these beautiful homes are vacant and no one else will ever move into them. There’s a profound sense of loss."
Families living around Oak Park, located in the center of the neighborhood, had formed an Oak Park Club, holding picnics together in the park.
"We will now have an excuse to start holding reunions for the old Oak Park Club," LOCHER said. "We certainly have no intention of leaving."
Rex and Julie BERGO, who have lived since 1978 in a house built by Rex on the bank of the Winnebago River, also anticipate staying where they are, Rex BERGO said.
"It's almost like a movie set now," he said. "People are moving out. These are people I've known for 30 years, in some cases."
Beth and Tim ROZEN, 715 N. Hampshire Ave., have also said goodbye to close friends. Their house was built high enough that only the garage was flooded.
"We've lost some wonderful neighbors," Beth ROZEN said. "It's just very difficult because we were such a close-knit neighborhood. We could literally have no houses going to our south — going to the river — and to our west."
Like others who remain, her concern now is about what will happen to those vacated properties.
Barb and Jerry KRIEGER have lived at 652 Eighth St. N.E. since 1976. Their house, which faces the flooded area from the north, had some flood damage two years ago when water gushed like a rapids down Eighth Street from the Winnebago River, filling their garage and family room.
"I just feel terrible, I really do," Barb KRIEGER said of the changes occurring in the neighborhood. "It's just our whole neighborhood over there is going to be gone. I knew practically all of them."
The KRIEGERS purchased their home when their friend, Mason City commercial photographer Art REYNOLDS, announced he was selling his home.
"We asked to buy it on the spot," KRIEGER said. "We loved the area. We loved the trees."
KRIEGER, too, is concerned about what will happen when the houses are gone.
"I like neighbors," she said. "To look at a bunch of cement, I don’t like it."
Pam MYHRE, Mason City director of growth planning and development, said the city will work with the Mason City Park Board to determine what to do with the vacant land.
"We are committed to a public planning process to include the neighbors," she said.
The vacated area will become park land, MYHRE said. "It has to remain green space," she said. "We will remove the concrete."
Rebuild Iowa Office
Egloff House Among Homes City Working to Save
(DES MOINES) – Historic preservation of disaster-damaged structures plays a major role in Mason City’s continued recovery from the 2008 flooding.
City Planner Tricia SANDAHL said the city is currently working to preserve 11 flood-damaged homes with historic value. These structures are among the 169 homes the city plans to purchase in a buyout plan created following the 2008 floods. As of Tuesday, 105 homes have been purchased by the city through buyouts, and 30 homes have been demolished.
The 11 historic homes will be stabilized and preserved for the short-term through the process called "mothballing," which is used by the National Parks system, SANDAHL said. Mothballing includes securing the house to keep animals and people from getting inside; making sure there is adequate ventilation so there is no mold growth; draining pipes and water heaters; disconnecting the water meter; putting stabilizing chemicals in the sewer traps; and mowing and removing snow from around the homes when needed.
The city estimates this type of temporary preservation will cost between $40,000 and $50,000 overall, funds which will be provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As part of the agreement with FEMA, Mason City must keep the structures stable for up to two years, during which time the city must market the homes, SANDAHL said. The ultimate goal is to sell the homes to people who want to move the structures to new locations. At the end of two years, however, any structures which aren't sold could be demolished.
One of these homes is the EGLOFF House in the Oak Park neighborhood along the Winnebago River. The unusual, European-style home was built in 1938 for Dr. William EGLOFF and his wife, Margaret, explained SANDAHL.
Richard CONE, an architect known for designing commercial structures, designed only two homes in his career, one of which was the EGLOFF House, which he designed for his sister who was Margaret EGLOFF. It was the first house in Mason City to be air conditioned, using what is known as swamp coolers which serviced the house until the 2008 floods. Living room walls are still covered with original wallpaper, some made of woven grass and some of wood veneer, SANDAHL said.
"Dr. EGLOFF was a sailor. That love of sailing certainly comes through in the way the house is designed," she said. A compass rose medallion made of linoleum can still be seen on the family room floor. Every inch of the 3,000-square-foot house is put to use, much like space on a sail boat, SANDAHL said.
"We don't know yet if we can move the EGLOFF house, and we are doing more evaluation to see if we can," she said. The intricate nature of the construction makes the home more delicate to move. This floor system, called the Sheffield Tile Deck System, was patented by an Iowa State University professor in 1936, and the tiles were manufactured at the Sheffield Brick and Tile works in Sheffield, Iowa. The tiles are made of the same clay used to make bricks and flowerpots, and were considered state-of-the-art for 1938. However, if one of the tiles shifts in a move, the house will become structurally unstable.
The city will investigate the possibilities of moving the EGLOFF House by using a multi-disciplinary team which includes an architect, structural engineer, architectural historian, house mover and a real estate professional to prepare a structural relocation feasibility study.
Preserving the house would keep an important piece of Mason City History from being lost, SANDAHL said. The house has served as the anchor in a historic district that will disappear because of the buyouts. It is her hope that the house will be acquired and moved. "If we can't move it, we will document the home, remove some architectural details from the house for re-use, then tear it down," SANDAHL said.
The city will also use Community Development Block Grant funds to purchase and preserve 14 homes in addition to the 11 historic homes mentioned above. While many of the 14 additional homes have some level of historic value, some are simply homes in good enough shape to be moved out of the flood-damaged areas and rehabilitated.
The city is currently exploring options for funding to help with the cost of rehabilitating the homes. Habitat for Humanity has also expressed interest in purchasing and moving a few of the homes.
Additionally, city officials plan to preserve the historic and architectural significance of other homes through continuing archival efforts. The city is documenting all of its historical structures destroyed by the flooding through written histories and photographs. In some cases, historical features of the house are being salvaged for future re-use in the community. Historic information about the flood-damaged homes will be housed, at least temporarily, at the Mason City Library.
The Globe Gazette
MASON CITY — The EGLOFF House at 655 Seventh St. N.E. is one of 11 homes damaged in the June 8, 2008, flood that the city wants to "mothball" in an attempt to preserve their historic value and move to a new location.
But it won't be easy because of the home's unique structure, said Tricia SANDAHL, a city planner who has overseen the housing aftermath of the flooding.
The EGLOFF home, most recently owned and occupied by Dale and Susan ARMSTRONG, was built in 1938 for Dr. William EGLOFF and his wife, Margaret.
Richard CONE, Margaret EGLOFF'S brother, was an architect known for designing commercial structures. He designed only two homes in his career, one of which was the EGLOFF House. It was the first house in Mason City to be air-conditioned, using what are known as swamp coolers which serviced the house for 70 years until the 2008 floods. It also had an intercom system — quite unusual for its day.
Other features include a wall of glass block windows on the front of the house, porthole windows, built-in dressers in the bedroom closets and a recreation room made to resemble the inside of a ship — a reflection of Dr. EGLOFF'S service in the Navy. It has an inlaid rubber compass in the floor.
There was a stone fireplace in the living room, a back stairway and a spiral wrought iron and brass stairway in the front entry.
"Dr. EGLOFF was a sailor. That love of sailing certainly comes through in the way the house is designed," said SANDAHL.
She said the intricate nature of the construction makes the home more delicate to move — and it may not be possible.
SANDAHL said the city will put together a team including an an architect, structural engineer, architectural historian, house mover and a real estate professional to prepare a structural relocation feasibility study.
"If we can't move it, we will document the home, remove some architectural details from it for re-use, then tear it down," SANDAHL said.
Photographs courtesy of The Globe Gazette
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