When the Current Iowa opens on Wednesday, it will reveal the new life being pumped into a downtown landmark.
Hailed as Davenport’s first skyscraper, the eight-story Putnam was built at 2nd and Main streets in 1910. It later housed department stores, such as H.E. Schraff Store and Simon & Landauer, and, more recently, served as an office building.
The Putnam was the last building designed by Daniel Burnham, the iconic architect who pioneered the skyscraper and is credited with creating the plan for Chicago's lakefront. The developer was W.C. Putnam Estate.
The Burnham name caught the attention of Kelly Duepner, vice president of design with Checkmate Design, an architecture firm for Restoration St. Louis. Burnham designed Duepner's favorite building, the Flatiron Building in New York City.
“To rehab something he designed really excited me,” she said. “It’s my favorite thing.”
Over the years, much of the building's original identity was stripped away, she said.
“The stairs are one of the only things that were kept,” she said, referring to the original marble staircase and railing. “It’s been renovated over the years, and the historic fabric of the building disappeared.”
Built on a brick foundation, it features a steel skeleton covered in red brick, stone backing and terracotta panels.
“The shell and core is where we got our historic fabric from,” Duepner said. “That’s where you see Burnham's touches."
The Putnam was intended as a first-class office building, a 1910 marketing brochure noting, "The beautiful and substantial building justifies the confidence placed in the development of Davenport and the Three-Cities," according to a 2003 Quad-City Times article.
Beyond that, the original site of The Current was the LeClaire House, built in 1839. It was the first hotel in the area and opened by Antoine LeClaire, the founder of the city of Davenport.
The building’s last major tenants include Ruhl Insurance and Butler Insurance. They have been relocated to Class A office space in the renovated Parker Building. Together, the Putnam, Parker and Center buildings will become City Square.