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North Liberty Ranshaw House inches closer to completion

Justin Torner/Freelance photos

Harlan Ranshaw celebrates his 90th birthday with family on Aug. 2, 2015, at the Ranshaw House in North Liberty. The home, on the National Register of Historic Places, is owned by the city of North Liberty and is being restored. The city plans to remove the existing kitchen and downstairs bathroom and add new restrooms, as well as update the plumbing and heating and cooling units. The home eventually will be available for use by the public.
Justin Torner/Freelance photos Harlan Ranshaw celebrates his 90th birthday with family on Aug. 2, 2015, at the Ranshaw House in North Liberty. The home, on the National Register of Historic Places, is owned by the city of North Liberty and is being restored. The city plans to remove the existing kitchen and downstairs bathroom and add new restrooms, as well as update the plumbing and heating and cooling units. The home eventually will be available for use by the public.
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The 110-year-old Ranshaw House in North Liberty has a storied history.

Built in 1908 by a wealthy North Liberty farmer, the Samuel and Emma A. Ranshaw house was a statement home, displaying modern amenities unheard of at the time — hot and cold indoor plumbing with soft and hard water, gas lighting, custom woodwork, classic columns and ornamental glass.

After changing hands a few times, including spending time as a day-care center, the home at 515 W. Penn St. was eyed for demolition in the early 2000s to make way for parking for the nearby community center.

The city, however, bought the house in 2004 with plans to restore it. In September 2012, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

To date, about $116,000 — including $62,000 from grants and $9,200 in donations — has been spent on the house for exterior paint, window replacement and roof repairs.

What’s Happened Since

The North Liberty City Council earlier this year opened bids for the latest renovation work at the home.

This project will remove the existing kitchen and downstairs bathroom and add new restrooms, as well as update the building’s plumbing and heating and cooling units. Work is expected to be finished by June.

Tracey Mulcahey, the North Liberty city administrator, said the council will review the bids — which she said came in below the $155,000 estimate — on Feb. 13.

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While some on the council have questioned the city’s ongoing funding of renovations to the home, council member Chris Hoffman said the upcoming work will make the home usable by the public.

“The house itself is not in a place that is habitable ... it doesn’t have any guts to it,” Hoffman said at the council’s Jan. 23 meeting. “By bringing those pieces to the building, it is now something that the public can use.”

While the city had hoped to fund the bulk of Ranshaw House renovations though grants, Hoffman said updating the house so it can host meetings or offices is necessary.

Mulcahey said future work to the house will include floor renovations and exterior paint.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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