CEDAR RAPIDS — Moving day was Friday for the last house in the old “Flats” neighborhood started some 150 years ago by bohemians along the Cedar River south of the New Bohemia District.
Movers from Aylsworth House Movers of Wadena loaded the small old house at 909 16th Avenue SE near Ninth Street onto a flatbed truck and hauled it about five blocks on city streets to an empty lot with a foundation at 1011 Sixth St. SE.
“It was a remarkable opportunity to preserve a piece of a neighborhood that is gone as of this morning,” said Mark Stoffer Hunter, historian for The History Center of Cedar Rapids.
Jason Rogers orchestrated the move to his property on Sixth Street where he plans to renovate the house and turn it into a short term rental, such as an Airbnb.
Cargill owns the property where the house was located and controls most of the land in the area, having bought up many of the properties and signed a no cost lease with the city for most of the rest. Cargill donated the house, and has been patient with the lengthy process for moving it, Rogers said. The company even helped cover some of the move costs, he said.
The house is small enough power lines did not have to be moved, Rogers said. The only hiccup was crossing the railroad tracks when a train whistle started blowing. The train was moving very slowly and the railroad had been made aware of the move, Rogers said.
“It was a pretty easy move,” he said.
It cost $15,000 to move it, he said.
The house was built in 1890, according to Cedar Rapids Assessor data. Rogers only took the original structure — about 16 feet wide and 28 feet long — and left some later additions. The house has a main level and a second story of about the same footprint, Rogers said. The foundation will provide for a new basement, which will be the most modern part of the house, Rogers said.
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One unique aspect is the front door is on the side of the house and the opposite side has no windows, which is characteristic of the neighborhood. Bohemian settlers built their homes so they could fit two houses on one lot, Rogers said.
Stoffer Hunter said he is thrilled the house was saved and that it is relocated to somewhere so close to the old neighborhood.
“This was worth keeping as a representative of the old neighborhood,” he said. “This was the last of the old neighborhood. It’s a classic piece of what we know locally as bohemian immigrant architecture.”
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