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Plans afoot to revitalize historic house

Plans afoot to revitalize historic house

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A vacant house — a relic from a bygone era that sits across from Davenport Central High School — has been given by a bank to the Hilltop Campus Village in hopes the nonprofit can find someone to buy and fix it up.

The 19th-century brick home had gone into foreclosure and has been boarded up for at least three years. The Wells Fargo real estate office recently donated it to the Hilltop organization under the bank's Community and Urban Stabilization Program. 

In addition to being repaired for residential use, the building also could have a commercial future, possibly as a law or accounting office, or an antique or clothing shop, said Scott Tunnicliff, the director of the Hilltop association that represents the business/residential district at the top of Harrison Street.

Or it could be both, with a commercial use on the first floor and residential on the second, he added.

The house is just south of the Hilltop and could become a cornerstone for commerce and the neighborhood, Tunnicliff said. "It's critical to have a cornerstone," he said.  "We want someone to rejuvenate it and make it vital again."

Anyone interested is asked to contact Tunnicliff.

The ball got rolling on this project about two years ago when Tunnicliff and Marion Meginnis, a leader in the nearby Gold Coast neighborhood, both noticed that the home's windows were being broken and the property was being vandalized.

They contacted the city's Community Service Division, which boarded up the house Jan. 8, 2011, to prevent further damage, and then Tunnicliff contacted Wells Fargo.

In addition to its cornerstone possibilities, other reasons for wanting to find a new buyer for the house are that it is a contributing structure of the College Square Historic District and that it is simply attractive, he said.

Ryan Rusnak, a planner for the city of Davenport, said the house "is almost a relic of what that landscape looked like" when it was built in the 1800s, a time when residential neighborhoods were making their way up the bluff from downtown, he said.

Nowadays, the home pretty much stands alone in a sea of concrete and institutional buildings, "but I like to envision what the area used to look like," he said. "(The house) tells a story of the past use. That's what's cool about it."

The building does not need extensive work: The roof, brick exterior, and heating and electrical systems are all in good shape, said Meginnis, who has inspected the property.

The biggest single expense likely would be to replace the broken windows. The breakage is a shame, she said, because the windows were original, the kind with wavy glass.

In addition to the boarding-up done by the city, Wells Fargo re-boarded the building in December 2013.

In 2013, Wells Fargo donated more than 1,600 low-value, bank-owned properties to nonprofit organizations and cities across the country for redevelopment, according to company documents.


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