The vacant home at Davenport's 6th and Gaines streets was dilapidated and overgrown with weeds when Maurice and Lois Woods bought it in 2008 and began a basement-to-attic restoration.
Not only did they restore the finest example of Queen Anne-style architecture in the city's historic Gold Coast neighborhood, but their investment also brightened a prominent corner, making the whole Gaines Street corridor look better.
"There's no telling what would have happened to that house if they hadn't bought it," said Jack Haberman, a neighborhood booster and a founder of the Gateway Redevelopment Group that tries to save abandoned properties in the area.
For their efforts, the Woodses have received the Judith A. McClure Award from the State Historical Society of Iowa, an honor recognizing outstanding preservation of a residential property.
"This house is pivotal in the community and has the potential to have a high impact on other properties," said Jeff Morgan, a representative of the Department of Cultural Affairs that includes the historical society.
The work the Woodses did was enormous, including replacing all of the mechanical systems, jacking up the sagging back half of the house, painting the exterior in a seven-color scheme, refinishing 37 doors and 45 windows, and refinishing or replacing all of the walls and floors.
Especially important, Morgan said, was the couple's attention to historic detail, including repairing the foyer tiles, restoring eight historic transoms and removing layers of paint to find the original Craftsman-style stenciling. The Woodses traced templates for the pattern and carefully repainted it by hand.
The total cost was estimated at $172,589, and the Woodses did much of the work themselves. Some funding was provided by Iowa historic tax credits and the Davenport HAPPEN program that makes money available to people who fix up abandoned properties.
The Woodses own two other homes in the Gold Coast, one that they have restored as their primary residence and another adjoining property that has been restored on the outside but still needs interior work.
At present, they are renting the Gaines Street home for short-term stays through a website called VRBO.com, which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner. This keeps the house occupied and brings them an income, Lois Woods said.
"As long as everything goes well, we'll keep doing that," she said. "I can't bear to let it go. It was a huge job."
Current renters are a group of engineers staying in the Quad-Cities for a project at Alcoa Davenport Works.
Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox
The house also is getting reprimed and repainted.
"The house had sat vacant for so many years it sopped up the paint, especially (in) the front where it gets the sun and the wind," Woods said.
While the Woodses maintain an apartment in Colorado where they still own property and spend part of the year, they consider Davenport home.
They are "thrilled about all the work" that has happened since they first invested here, both in the Gold Coast — that area bounded by 5th, 9th, Ripley and Vine streets — and in the downtown, she said.
"We're so happy that we chose Davenport. There's never been a minute's regret about that."
This is the second time in three years that a Gold Coast home has been chosen for the Judith A. McClure Award. Haberman and his wife, Marion Meginnis, received the award in 2011 for their work at 624 W. 6th St.