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Tour the Districts
- Court Hill Historic District
- Fifth Street Bluff Historic District
- Vogel Place Historic District
- Ottumwa Cemetery Historic District
In addition, there are several individual buildings in Ottumwa with National Register listing. All houses listed on the National Register are private homes and not open to the public. Government buildings listed on the National Register are open to the public.
As you approach Ottumwa from the south or west, you are presented with a panoramic view of a tree-covered bluff rising from the Des Moines River valley with church spires and roof tops peaking through. Many of the spires and roof tops belong to houses and churches in the Fifth Street Bluff and Court Hill Historic Districts. Both of these residential districts developed as the city of Ottumwa grew up and away from the river during the second half of the 19th century. Court Street was a major street leading northeast from the river to Sixth Street, the original city limits.
The original settlement in the village of Ottumwa took place along the north bank of the Des Moines River. In May of 1843, the first settlers built log cabins near the river and the ferry crossing. By the early 1850's Ottumwans were starting to build more permanent residences, and these were located farther from the river, first along Second Street, and then moving up the hill to Fourth, and finally, construction began "on the Bluff" along Fifth Street.
The Vogel Place Historic District is an early 20th century residential neighborhood located in the northern part of Ottumwa between the Ottumwa Cemetery and the Ottumwa Country Club. Building lots were sold in the Vogel Place addition beginning in 1908.
The Court Hill and Fifth Street Bluff Historic Districts were officially dedicated in a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 16, 1998.
Benson Block, 108 - 112 N. Market Street, Ottumwa, Iowa (listed 1-3-85)
Benson Building, 214 E. Second Street, Ottumwa, Iowa (listed 8-11-95)
First National Bank, 131 E. Main Street, Ottumwa, Iowa (listed 8-11-95)
Foster-Bell House, Fifth Street Bluff historic district, Ottumwa, Iowa (listed 9-29-83)
Jay Funeral Home, 220 N. Court Street, Ottumwa, Iowa (listed 8-11-95)
Ottumwa Public Library, 129 N. Court Street, Ottumwa, Iowa (listed 4-27-84)
U.S. Post Office (Federal Building and/or City Hall), Court and Fourth Streets, Ottumwa, Iowa (listed 8-13-76)
Wapello County Courthouse, Court Street, Ottumwa Iowa (listed 7-2-81)
Ottumwa Mayor Uehling (pictured center) is cutting the ribbon officially dedicating the Court Hill and Fifth Street Bluff historic districts. Both districts were recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was held in the middle of Court Street on Saturday, May 16, 1998. It was attended by Ottumwa dignitaries, local historic property owners, and members of the Ottuwma Historic Preservation Commission.
Everyone got into the action, holding the ribbon and stopping traffic! The addition of the Court Hill and Fifth Street Bluff historic districts brings to four the number of historic districts in Ottumwa, Iowa. Over 250 properties and structures are included in the four historic districts. Most of the contributing houses in the Court Hill and Fifth Street districts date from the 1860's to the early 1900's.