blueprints

Jacob Bobbitt, treasurer of the nonprofit Friends of Hauberg Civic Center Foundation, and Deb Kuntzi, Friends president, marvel at an original blueprint showing fireplace plans for the Hauberg mansion.

Deb Kuntzi can barely contain her excitement.

"Oh, my gosh," she said, answering the phone. "We hit the mother lode. We found the lost scrolls of Hauberg."

Kuntzi is president of the nonprofit group working to restore and market the historic Hauberg mansion and surrounding property that was given to the city of Rock Island for use as a civic center the mid-1950s.

Knowing how a building looked originally is a prerequisite for restoration, but after countless hours of cleaning decades' worth of miscellaneous items out of the basements, closets and attics of both the mansion and its carriage house, volunteers had found no original plans.

Until about a week ago.

That's when Kuntzi and another volunteer followed up on a chance remark about some old blueprints stored in the basement of the former parks office, located next to Hauberg.

Among the trove they found: original signed blueprints by Robert C. Spencer, the architect who designed the home; Jens Jensen, the landscape architect responsible for the surrounding property, and George Niedecken, a decorative artist who created wall and ceiling decorations. All are nationally known in their respective fields.

Niedecken drew outlines for stenciled friezes (decorative bands near a room's ceiling) for all the downstairs rooms. The stencils were painted on canvas affixed to the walls and although the walls have been painted over through the years, Kuntzi believes the stenciled canvases are still underneath. While restoration is possible, "I have no idea how much that would cost," she said.

In addition to wall and ceiling decorations, Niedecken was known for designing wallpaper, rugs, architectural decorations and furniture; in addition to the Hauberg mansion, his extensive credits include objects created for 12 homes designed by Prairie style architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Other "finds" among the plans: eight original drawings by Jensen and blueprints for the home's light fixtures and exterior stone tulips.

The boxes of stored documents also revealed that the wallpapers in the bedrooms of John and Catherine Hauberg, children of John and Susanne Denkmann Hauberg, were designs of William Morris sold by Marshall Field & Co., Chicago. Morris was a textile designer associated with the British Arts and Crafts movement.

Overall, the only changes in the room configuration of the house are in the service area where, for example, a handicapped-accessible restroom was added, Kuntzi said.

Although volunteers haven't gone through every box completely, they haven't found any plans yet for the home's art glass windows, the original front door or the gold tile above the fireplace in the living room that was removed in the 1930s to make way for a different style of fireplace as the Haubergs' tastes changed.

Eventually, the Friends group will give the blueprints to the Augustana College Special Collections Library that already has an extensive Hauberg collection, Kuntzi said.

Copies will be framed and displayed in the mansion.

The Friends of the Hauberg Civic Center Foundation was formed by individuals who successfully opposed plans by the city in 2016 to sell the Hauberg property because of high maintenance costs.

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