News Track: Plan to preserve house in Flats advances

Home built by Bohemian immigrants set to be moved in September

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The effort to preserve the last residential property in a historic neighborhood is on track, project leaders said.

“We’re very close,” said Mark Stoffer Hunter, a member of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission and historian with The History Center. “It’s still going in a positive way.”

BACKGROUND

For months, the Cedar Rapids Historical Preservation Commission has been working to preserve what members believe to be the last authentic house in the Flats, a neighborhood wedged east of New Bohemia between the Cedar River and 15th Avenue SE.

Located at 909 16th Ave. SE, the property is a roughly 1,000-square-foot clapboard structure built just before the turn of the 20th century by Bohemian immigrant workers.

Nearby Cargill Corn Milling currently owns the property, but has promised to sell house for $1 to anyone willing to move it off Cargill land, said Jon Yungtum, assistant project manager at Weitz Industrial and a liaison between Cargill and those interested in purchasing the house, in a previous Gazette interview.

The company also intends to donate an undisclosed amount toward the cost of moving the house, Yungtum said.

However, the rest of the moving costs — as well as the cost of a new foundation — will be up to a new owner.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE

Stoffer Hunter said project leaders have found a buyer, who does not wish to be named until plans for the house are announced. The potential buyer is working with Cargill and the city on logistics.

“Everyone wants to make sure all our ducks are lined up in a row, and I can tell you it’s not going to be moved too far away from where it is now,” Stoffer Hunter said. He said the house will be moved to a neighborhood adjacent to the Flats and its purpose will be historical in nature.

The structure, which is scheduled to be moved by the end of September, will be renovated to appear as it did when it was first built 1870s.

Stoffer Hunter and other local historians believe the Flats neighborhood dates to the 1870s, and is one of the only neighborhoods of that era left in Cedar Rapids. Historians estimate the neighborhood once was filled with as many as 120 houses, mostly for Bohemian immigrants who migrated to the area for work in nearby plants.

The flood of 2008 badly damaged the area, impacting 25 houses that remained at that time. Only about a half dozen homeowners rebuilt, but only two houses remained when the neighborhood was threatened by flood again in 2016.

Occupants of both homes never returned and Cargill purchased the land, which the company has been doing in the area since the 1990s.

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