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City of Newton - Community Development

Posted on: February 25, 2021

Two New Historic Districts in Newton Listed To National Register of Historic Places

O.C. Meredith House (602 1st Ave E)

The City of Newton and the Historic Preservation Commission are excited to announce the two newest listings to the National Register of Historic Places in Newton. The listings were confirmed by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa on January 6, 2021.

The process, which was funded in by a grant from the State of Iowa, saw citizen volunteers contribute 342 hours to the project. Historic Preservation Commission members that worked on the project included Larry Hurto, Mary Jo Niskin, Rita Reinheimer, Tanya Michener and Ken Barthelman. Richard Carlson, with the Office of the State Archeologist, served as the consultant on the project.

The First Avenue West Historic District, which runs from 414 1st Avenue W to 622 1st Avenue W, and the First Avenue East Historic District, which runs from 415 1st Avenue E to 629 1st Avenue E and also includes 5 – 10 Cardinal Court, were both listed in that National Register of Historic Places effective December 7. The districts share a boundary with the Newton Downtown Historic District, creating a preservation corridor in the City Center along First Avenue East and West.

The two new listings are the first historic districts in the City of Newton that focus on residential architecture rather than commercial or public buildings. The architectural styles and resources associated with the city’s growth, community planning and development, and important persons provide the basis for the two historic districts. 

Buildings in these two districts have construction dates that range from 1868 to the mid-1990s, with properties constructed between 1900 and 1930 and are representative of early twentieth century development along First Avenue in Newton. As industry and commerce grew and developed in Newton, many prominent industrialists, bankers, and merchants constructed homes immediately outside the city center where their homes had room for picturesque yards, enjoyed easy access to the city center, and were conspicuous along a major thoroughfare. Eventually, a growing middle class fueled by Newton’s manufacturing success also began to reside along the corridor. 

The districts exhibit primarily late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century residential architecture, with some mid- to late- twentieth-century buildings. There are examples of popular high-style architecture, including Bungalow, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Prairie Style, and Mission Revival, as well as various examples of vernacular types of homes. The most frequently observed form in the potential districts is the two-story four-square. This type became a fixture in American neighborhoods and was adaptable to various styles such as Colonial Revival, Prairie Style, or those with more vernacular detailing.

The properties located in these two new districts will benefit from recognition of the property's historic, architectural or archaeological significance. Listed properties are also taken into account during various preservation and development projects. 

Additional benefits include:

  • National recognition of the value of the properties to the nation, state of Iowa and community
  • A tool for local planning, heritage tourism and education
  • Provides for review of any federally licensed, financed or assisted projects to determine its effect on historic properties
  • Eligibility for federal and/or state income tax credits
  • Provides consideration in the decision to issue a surface coal mining permit
  • Provides qualification for federal assistance for historic preservation (such as planning and rehabilitation), when funds are available.

Listing on the National Register of Historic Places does not ensure preservation or protection, does not restrict a property owner’s private property rights or require that properties be maintained, repaired or restored; however, significant modifications may result in removal from the register; does not affect the use or sale of private property; does not stop federally assisted government projects and does not guarantee that grant funds will be available for all properties

(Photo credit: O.C. Meredith House (602 1st Ave E) - Jason O'Brien, August 2016)

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