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From boarded-up to beautiful

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Thank goodness for the tour of homes set for Sept. 20-21 in Davenport's historic Gold Coast neighborhood.

How else would Jack Haberman and Marion Meginnis ever finish the list of projects they began in 2006 when they bought the big, boarded-up Victorian Italianate home at 624 W. 6th St.?

The upcoming tour has launched them into warp speed on many fronts — refinishing furniture, painting walls, installing bathroom tile and hanging period light fixtures.

Not that they hadn't already done a great deal in eight years.

At the time of their purchase, the home had been sectioned into six apartments, so early work focused on returning the house to its original configuration. They tore out false walls, extra doors, layers of flooring and six sets of kitchen and bath fixtures.

The work was and continues to be a labor of love for the couple, who moved into the Gold Coast 17 years ago from Chicago when Meginnis took a job as president and general manager of WQAD-TV in Moline.

Haberman was retired as a development engineer from IBM, and together they became leaders in the ongoing effort to revitalize the neighborhood.

The couple bought (and lived in) a different house originally, but Meginnis spotted the West 6th Street property right off because of its good looks: its imposing stance on the bluff, bracketed eaves, limestone and brick detailing, and a semi-circular front porch.

Then she uncovered its history! The architect was the noted Frederick George Clausen, whose credits include many prominent homes and religious, commercial and educational buildings in Davenport, and the owner was Henry Lischer, an influential German-language newspaper publisher and banker.

Through the years, the couple came to learn "how really much Clausen and Lischer contributed to this community," said Meginnis, who retired from WQAD in 2007. "It goes on and on."

The couple are excited about all the homes on the upcoming tour, including "The Castle," at 615 Ripley St., with its crenelated roof line; "Westwin," at 712 Western Ave., built by a man active in the Underground Railroad, and a faux Tudor-style home that has a modern, urban feel inside.

"There are five houses on the tour and they are all so different," Haberman said. "There is real diversity. Today, that's one of the key things of our neighborhood is the diversity. That's what I think makes our neighborhood so great. Together, our dream, our hope, our image, is the revitalization of our neighborhood."

Also open on tour days will be Café d’Marie, 614 W. 5th St., a restaurant offering drinks, desserts and light meals, and the nonprofit Architectural Rescue Shop at the Jipp, 732 Gaines St., featuring architectural salvage and the Hamburg Historic District history room.


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Scenes from Davenport's historic Gold Coast neighborhood.

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