Here are a few Web sites that offer information on historic preservation. These sites are not under the control of the Ottumwa Historic Preservation Commission. We are not responsible for the accuracy or appropriateness of the content.
- National Trust For Historic Preservation A private, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving historic buildings and the neighborhoods and landscapes they anchor. Check out their weekly quiz.
- National Parks Service
- National Register of Historic Places
- Contacts, Tax Credits, and Other Assistance
- Tools for Learning
- National Register Publications
- National Register Information System - look up historic places by state and county
- National Center for Preservation Technology and Training - online resources including research, education, grants, and Internet sites
- Preservation Briefs
- Historic Architecture Tour of Huntington County, Indiana - Learn about architectural building styles.
- Wisconsin Barn Preservation Related Links
- To be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a property normally must be at least how old? Answer
a. 50 years old
b. 100 years old
c. 150 years old
- If your property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, . . . Answer
a. you cannot alter its exterior without first submitting a renovation plan.
b. you can do whatever you want with the listed property if you haven't received Federal funds for renovation.
Ottumwa's history has revolved around the Des Moines River. The river drew early native people's and settlers. It provided a means of transportation before the railroads.
The Des Moines River also created a division in the community. It was a natural barrier inhibiting free access from one side of the banks to the other. Bridges were built to unite Ottumwa. Ottumwa's nickname is "the City of Bridges."
Engineers from the Iowa State Highway Commission designed the bridge project. The Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin began excavation for the substructure in early 1935. Construction was completed in 1936. On May 28, 1936 the Jefferson Street Viaduct was dedicated in ceremonies presided over by Iowa Governor Clyde Herring and Ottumwa Mayor Edwin Manning. A crowd of about 15,000 people were on hand for the bridge's official opening.
The Jefferson Street Viaduct has five arched deck truss spans, riveted Warren deck truss, and supported above the Des Moines River on tapered concrete pedestals. It is technologically noteworthy as an uncommon application of deck truss technology in Iowa.
The Jefferson Street Viaduct was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Below is an old picture postcard showing "new viaduct" across the Des Moines River.
Wapello (1787-1842), for whom the county was named, was a chief of the Foxes, and second in command to Keokuk of the federated tribes of the Sacs and Foxes. He realized the changes that the white man could bring, and tried to lead his people in friendship and peace.
Born in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin in 1787, Wapello was one of many Native Americans who were moved farther, and farther west with the signing of each new treaty. He was at Rock Island, Illinois when Fort Armstrong was built shortly after the War of 1812. In 1829 he moved his village to the Muscatine slough on the west side of the Mississippi River. Following the signing of the treaty after the "Black Hawk War" in 1837, over a million acres of land in eastern Iowa was ceded to the U.S. At this time Wapello and his people traveled westward and settled along the banks of the Des Moines River just south of the present town of Ottumwa. Here he became a fast friend of the Indian Agent, General Joseph M. Street, who had followed a similar geographic pattern to reach Wapello County. The two men worked together to create a peaceful coexistence.
General Street suffered ill health from the time he arrived at the Iowa Agency, and died there in 1840. He was buried at the Agency, and land was given by the Indians to the wife of their dear friend, to sustain her and her family. Wapello expressed the desire to be buried near his friend when he too died. In 1842, Wapello died while on a trip along the Skunk River, and he was laid to rest at the side of his loyal white friend, General Joseph M. Street. Today their graves, and those of Mrs. Street, their children and Major John Beach (son-in-law of Street, and Street's successor as Indian Agent), have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Chief Wapello Memorial Park just east of Agency, Iowa.
Henry Hobson Richardson - Architect
Few architects have made such important contributions to the field that a style has been named for them. Henry Hobson Richardson is such a man. His interpretation of the Romanesque style with its heavy massing and highly textured materials, has become known as Richardsonian Romanesque.
Richarson (1836-1888) was born in Louisiana. Following his graduation from Harvard, he studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, becoming only the second American to be formally trained in architecture. Returning to the U.S. he set up practice in New York with Charles Dexter Gambrill. In 1872 a massive fire destroyed much of Boston's downtown. One of the buildings lost was Trinity Church. Richardson won the competition to design and build the new church. Started in 1873, the massive stone building with its round arches, polished columns, and towers, was completed in 1877. Trinity Church firmly established Richardson as an architect of note. In the following ten years he designed approximately 50 buildings, most in this same style. Though the style remained the same, he designed a variety of different types of buildings, including libraries, train stations, residences, and commercial buildings. In each you can see the rich texture of the material (stone), and the rhythmical pattern of the openings (round arches). It is these characteristics which have been borrowed by architects across the country and used to create such buildings as the Wapello County Courthouse in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.
Building designed by Richardson include:
Foster and Liebbe - Architects
William Foster (1842-1909) and Henry F. Liebbe (1851-1927) formed a partnership in 1883 in Des Moines, Iowa and continued to work together until 1898. They specialized in the design of public buildings, including ten county courthouses in Iowa, a number of college and university buildings for the State of Iowa, and the Hospital for the Insane in Clarinda, Iowa. They also designed a number of churches, schools, and large residences. Foster became interested in the design of opera houses, and began to build and manage these. When he left the architectural partnership in 1898, he devoted himself entirely to the operation of opera houses.
Among the buildings designed by Foster and Liebbe are:
Smith and Gutterson - Architects
Oliver O. Smith (1868-1916) and Frank A. Gutterson (1872-1901) formed a brief partnership from 1898-1901 with offices in Des Moines, Iowa. Before and after that period Smith was in partnership with a number of other well known Iowa architects. Like Foster and Liebbe, Smith and Gutterson apparently specialized in public buildings.
Buildings designed by Smith and Gutterson include:
- Des Moines, Iowa Public Library
- Des Moines, Iowa Historical Memorial and Arts Building (Old State Historical Building)
- Ottumwa, Iowa Public Library
- Owatonna, Minnesota Public Library
For more information on Oliver O. Smith and/or Frank A. Gutterson, see:
Shank, Wesley I., Iowa's Historic Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999.
Casimir I. Krajewski - Architect
Casimir Ignatius Krajewski (1893-1949 or later) was born in Poland. He opened an office in Dubuque, Iowa in 1927 and worked there until about 1940 when he moved to Chicago. Not many buildings have been identified as his work. The only one listed in Shank's book is St. Mary's of the Visitation in Ottumwa.
For more information about Casimir Krajewski see:
Shank, Wesley I., Iowa's Historic Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999.
|Located at the corner of Fourth and Court Street, St. Mary's is the newest of the monumental stone buildings around Central Park. It was designed in 1930 by Dubuque architect C.I. Krajewski in the popular Late Gothic Revival style. The style was based on that used in the Medieval period for churches across Europe. The most identifiable architectural detail of this style is the use of the pointed Gothic (or lancet) arch. In this country the Gothic Revival style was first popular in the 1840s-60s for residences as well as for churches. The style never really fell out of favor for ecclesiastical design, but it experienced a re-birth in the first decades of the 20th century when it became popular for collegiate architecture as well.
St. Mary's is a fine example of the style featuring as asymmetrical facade with corner tower. The main entrance is on Fourth Street, with side entries on Court. The exterior is of ashlar blocks of Bedford limestone. Another major element of Gothic design is the use of buttresses. These pillars of stone are attached to the building exterior to provide additional support as the walls extend higher and higher. Butresses can be seen at the corners of the tower, and will be found on other corners of the church as well as along the side walls. The higher the buttress, the narrower the pillar becomes. Each segment has a slope at the top as it becomes narrower.
Detail of top of tower
|The bell tower is square in shape, with two Gothic arched openings on each side near the top, allowing the bell to be heard. Stone tracery is found in the top of these arches with louvers below. The top of the tower is crenellated, with finals on three of the corners, and a copper covered lantern and cross on the other. Copper was used throughout the building, but is most visible on the bell tower, and on the gutters.|
Side view of facade
|This photograph shows two different buttresses (one tall and one short) and a copper gutter. Copper takes on a green patina with age.|
|The main portal (entrance) facing Fourth Street is deeply recessed within the Gothic arched opening (visually a series of arches decreasing in size). Originally the double wooden entry doors would have matched the tympanum area above the inset panels, but these doors were replaced to meet fire code. Take note of the carving, not just in the entry but above and on both sides as well.|
Detail of the stonework in arch
|Each of the five panels bears a different symbol of Christianity.|
Detail of stonework on left side of arch
|The vertical elements characteristic of Gothic design are seen in these carved forms. Note the foliage on the center portion of the shaft. At the bottom is a small carved fleur-de-lis.|
Detail of fleur-de-lis
|The fleur-de-lis is a stylized representation of the lily, a symbol of purity. For this reason the fleur-de-lis is often used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary. It is appropriate that it be used on each side of the front doors of St. Mary's of the Visitation.|
|This cornerstone is located on the facade, just to the left of the entrance. It has a representation of the cross on a shield, and an inscription and date in Latin.|
Court Street entrance
|Although this side entrance is smaller than that on Fourth Street, it too is deeply recessed within the Gothic arch. Like the front doors, the original has been replaced by a door meeting fire code. The arch to the left appears to have always been a blind arch with a window rather than a door.|
Identification panel above doors
|Above the Court Street entrance is a carved panel bearing the name "Saint Marys" in flowing Gothic script. Again, the symbol of the Virgin is used with a foliated panel containing a fleur-de-lis on each side of the name.|
Window with stone cross
|Christian symbols are found in a number of places on the exterior. Here is a stone cross set within a window frame.|
Stained glass window
|Although this window has protective covering, you can still see the stone tracery creating the smaller panels of the window. Note also, there is a stone buttress on each side of the window.|
Interior toward alter
|On the interior, elements of the Gothic Revival style are readily apparent. The floor plan of this church is one that has been used for Christian churches for centuries. It is long and narrow, with wings on each side near the altar area creating the shape of the cross. This plan has a narthex (entrance area just inside the front doors), a nave with side aisles (the area for the congregation), transcept (the side wings), and altar area. This photograph is taken from just inside the narthex doors looking down the center aisle toward the altar. The interior walls are not of stone, but are of tannish-brown brick which is highlighted by inset carved stone panels. A large Gothic arch at the far end signals the beginning of the altar area, while the large arches on each side separate the nave from the transcept wings. Smaller Gothic arches along the side walls separate the nave from the side aisles. Three tall slender Gothic arched stained glass windows are located in the wall above the altar. The flooring is terrazzo in the aisles and chancel (altar) area, with maple flooring in the pew areas. The altar of St. Mary's (like that in most Roman Catholic churches) was altered and simplified following Vatican II.|
|This photograph shows the arches defining the side aisles, and the large stained glass clerestory windows above. Clerestory windows are located high on a wall and allow daylight to shine down into the church (like light from Heaven). All of the stained glass windows are original to the church and were created by Emil Frei Incorporated of St. Louis. These windows along both sides of the nave represent different saints. Notice the hanging lights.|
Detail of light fixture
The light fixtures were part of the original plan of the church and were designed and made by the Beardslee Chandelier Company of Chicago, Illinois. These have been carefully cleaned and restored. Notice the colorful detail of the stained glass just to the left of the light.