It happens every time.
At some point during the various home tours in Davenport's historic Gold Coast neighborhood, someone will sidle up to one of the homeowners and, leaning in, ask in a low voice, "Do you feel safe living here?"
For this year's Sept. 20-21 tour, Marion Meginnis, an officer with the Gateway Redevelopment Group, decided to address the question head-on with a statement in the ticket book.
After extolling the area's architecture, history and views, she gave an emphatic "yes" to the safety question. "Yes, we feel safe in our homes and on our streets, and we wouldn't trade our eclectic neighborhood for any other in the Quad-Cities," she wrote.
This year's tour was deemed quite a success, with 903 visitors.
In addition, the nonprofit Architectural Rescue Shop at 8th and Gaines streets had hundreds of visitors and more than $1,000 in sales. The shop located in the 1800s Christian Jipp home and grocery store has now surpassed its total sales for 2013. ($13,000 versus $12,000.) The money goes back into neighborhood projects.
The shop sells antique items salvaged from area buildings. When you make a purchase, you are not simply buying an object, you also are buying a piece of this area's unique past. You are buying a story.
If you have never been to the shop, I recommend a visit, even if you don't want to buy anything. Browsing through the porcelain doorknobs, decorative tiles, fancy windows, staircase spindles and brass hardware is a lot of fun.
The volunteers who staff the store are also interesting, as is the story behind the building's restoration. It had been slated for demolition, but a determined group of neighbors formed the nonprofit organization called the Gateway Redevelopment Group and put together a plan to save it. This highly visible corner would look pretty sad without the building.
Hours at the store are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For questions, call Jim Green at 563-579-7280.
VACANT HOME GETS NEW OWNER: Elsewhere in the Gold Coast, the redevelopment group, dedicated to saving abandoned properties, has found a buyer for a home at 406 W. 8th St.
Built about 1898, the home had been foreclosed upon and on the market for about two years when the redevelopment group approached the bank with a plan. What if the group took over possession and tried to find someone willing to take the house basically for free — $2,000 — with an agreement to fix it up?
The bank agreed, and in September the group sold the home to Christina Nall, a former medical specialist who is trying a new career as a residential redeveloper.
She has sold her home in Moline and hopefully will be living in her new house in the near future.
Jack Haberman, who spearheaded the formation of the redevelopment group more than 10 years ago, estimates it will take about $50,000 to make the home sound and another $50,000 to make it "really nice."
For more on work going on in the Gold Coast, go to grgdavenport.org.
MEANWHILE IN ROCK ISLAND: Old-home fans will want to mark this on their calendars: The Broadway Historic Area is hosting a holiday tour of homes Saturday, Dec. 6.
Watch this section for details.
DAVENPORT'S GLASPELL LAUDED IN DES MOINES: The Department of English at Drake University in Des Moines is recognizing little-known Davenport Pulitzer Prize-winning author Susan Glaspell by naming one of its yearly reading series in her honor.
Four noted Glaspell scholars from the International Susan Glaspell Society will perform at this year's inaugural event from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8.
GRANT WOOD SKETCHBOOK STORY: Pat Rogers perked up while reading the story in the Times last month about a stolen Grant Wood sketchbook being returned to Davenport's Figge Art Museum.
The book contains sketches that Wood, most famously known for his "American Gothic" painting, made for a memorial stained-glass window that was installed in Cedar Rapids during 1929. The window was damaged during the 2008 Cedar River flood and was restored in Davenport by Glass Heritage LLC, of which Rogers is a part-owner.
"During the restoration, we were allowed to see the sketchbook as an aid in understanding how the figures were created and imagined," Rogers said.
How did the book come to be shared with Glass Heritage?
Rogers said it is her understanding that the book's owner (who had nothing to do with the original theft) has family in the Quad-City region who heard about the glass restoration project and, through word of mouth, he decided to make the book available.
"We also studied the original cartoons — drawings made actual size to serve as patterns," Rogers said.
They were found, rolled up and forgotten, on steam pipes in the basement of the Veterans Memorial Building.