Davenport’s City Council delved into history Wednesday as it discussed the future of a landmark house and a historic neighborhood.
Several neighbors of the Lambrite-Iles-Petersen House, 510 W. 6th St., spoke in favor of designating the property a local landmark, a recommendation met, for the most part, favorably by the aldermen.
The council also heard a recommendation to hire Winter and Co. of Boulder, Colo., to develop a master plan for the Village of East Davenport.
Both actions will be voted on at next week’s council meeting.
Neighbors spoke with concern about the Italianate house that is falling into disrepair on the bluff overlooking downtown, calling it the “crown jewel of the Gold Coast.”
“This building needs landmarking,” said John Frueh, chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. “If any building deserved one, it is this one.”
The house was built in 1856, designed by an architect who would go on to design the Illinois and Iowa statehouses. Several prominent residents also lived there.
Based on those facts, the house easily meets the criteria for landmark status, so it is unfortunate the house has fallen to the state it’s in, said Marion Meginnes, a neighbor who also serves on the Historic Preservation Commission.
“This process happens when a crisis is occurring,” she said. “It is in grave danger of demolition by neglect.”
Aldermen were receptive to the idea of designating the house a landmark, although they did learn that by doing so, it offered no new protections.
“It is sad we’re at the 11th hour here,” Alderman Barney Barnhill, 7th Ward, said. “How can we save this from deteriorating to the point it is not salvageable.”
Alderman Gene Meeker, at-large, and Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward, raised concerns over property rights, noting that the house’s owner, Gordon Muller, isn’t involved in the landmarking process.
“What I’m uncomfortable with here is the owner isn’t doing this,” Edmond said. “I don’t want to trample on property rights.”
Mayor Bill Gluba told the council that he and Alderman Bill Boom, 3rd Ward, said they planned to make a personal appeal to Muller.
The council also discussed hiring the Colorado firm to do a master plan for the East Village at a cost of $121,600, but alderman expressed concern that it is unbudgeted.
Alan Guard, the city’s finance director, said the city’s portion will be paid for through sales tax that was available. Also, the city received a $12,000 grant for the project, and the East Village’s Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District is contributing $12,000.