The front door of 817 W. 7th St. in Davenport is the architectural equivalent of a big welcome sign.
Look at it!
On either side and on top of the door there are curved windows, topped by an all-encompassing arch, set off by carved pink flowers, flanked by flat pillars with fancy tops. Phew!
One can stand and stare at the door for a long time, taking it all in.
... But don't take too long, because the whole rest of the house — all three floors! — is filled with this kind of sumptuous detail. Keep moving.
This home is one of five that will be open for tours on Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 22-23, during the Gold Coast-Hamburg Historic District Home Tour.
Step past the vestibule, with its custom mosaic floor, into the entry hall. At your left is the formal staircase, set in a colonnade. At your right is a fireplace with brown tile, mantel and mirror. Flanking it, above window seats, are sets of leaded and colored glass.
At your feet is a parquet floor and, where the walls meet the ceiling, there is an ornamental band, consisting of three sub-bands — plain wood, then aqua and silver plaster swirls and, finally, molding that looks like small, rectangular blocks.
Hanging from a medallion in the ceiling is a chandelier of pink and blue Venetian glass.
And the whole house is like this!
It's room after room of visual wonders. Peek around at the staircase, and you'll see a large stained glass window at the landing depicting a still life of flowers. On the side wall going up, there is a huge tapestry depicting a medieval village.
Glimpse into the oval-shaped dining room and you'll be drawn to the wall murals depicting a city with a river, steamboats, buildings, flowers and and palm trees.
The kitchen? Granite countertops. A red and green stained glass window of four dragonflies with jeweled eyes. A multi-colored tile backsplash.
And everywhere, furniture, art work, statues, cloisonné vases, drapes, rugs and wall sconces that the owners have collected through a life time of sniffing out good deals, from eBay and flea markets to secondhand stores. Many items have an Asian flair.
A little bit of history
The house was built in 1895 by Henry Koehler, a German immigrant who came to America in 1849, making his way across the country by working in breweries. In 1872 he arrived in Davenport and became partners with his brother-in-law in the Arsenal Brewery in the Village of East Davenport.
Through the years, the home has been gone back and forth as a rental property with family members as a part of the chain, Marion Meginnis, Gold Coast resident, historian and Davenport alderwoman, said.
The last owner before the home was purchased in 2007 by Maurice and Lois Woods had been foreclosed upon by a bank.
The Woods' back story
In 1964, the Woodses drove through Davenport from their home in California on their way to the World's Fair in New York City.
They were enthralled with the Mississippi River and the town's old homes and told themselves that when they had the time and resources, they would return.
As life unfolded, they moved to Colorado where they made their living at general contracting and running several small businesses. Buying and rehabbing homes became a way of life for them.
In 2006, the couple made good on their intentions for Davenport. They came back armed with financial resources, considerable know-how and a strong work ethic. They bought three properties with plans to restore them and have made good on those intentions, too.
A prominent Queen Anne style house at the corner of 6th and Gaines streets was featured in the 2011 Gold Coast home tour and is rented out for short-term stays via an online vacation home site.
"It gets a lot of use," Lois Woods said of that house. Renters come primarily to visit various Quad-City businesses and educational institutions.
A home at 811 W. 7th St. — next door to the one we're writing about today — is the Woodses' primary residence and was featured in the 2016 Gold Coast tour. The Woodses also maintain an apartment in Colorado where they still own property and spend part of the year, but they love Davenport, particularly the people and distinct seasons, Lois Woods said.
Today's home is the last property they are restoring. Because it had been vacant for a time with the heat off, the painted peeled and chunks of plaster gave way, Lois Woods said. Every single surface has been redone.
Also, because the Woodses intend to rent this property as well, they have created a private bath for every bedroom.
That means four bedrooms with baths on the second floor and four bedrooms with baths on the third. Some of the baths are creatively tucked into unlikely alcoves, but all of them are eminently serviceable.
"We wanted to take advantage of the space," Lois Woods said, referring to the upper floors. "There's a wonderful big area up there."
Back to the house
As you tour the home, don't miss the bathroom on the first floor. We agreed not to describe it because Lois Woods wanted it "to be a surprise."
And as you exit, make sure to turn around take a good look at the back of the home. It, too, features a "welcome sign" because the home essentially has two fronts. The rear front sports a turret and an 80-foot, half-circular porch.
Before the hillside was covered in trees, the porch would have looked out to the Mississippi River and would have been visible from streets below.