In the summer of 2011, an old white barn on Davenport’s 53rd Street was taken down by members of the Gateway Redevelopment Group, a nonprofit organization working in Davenport’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood.
Jack Haberman, a driving force behind the group, had purchased the barn so he could use its vintage siding on a storage shed the group was building.
What he didn’t anticipate is how difficult the deconstruction would be and how long it would take.
But, mission accomplished.
The barn’s boards, windows, pulley and cupolas were saved for reuse.
Today, some of those boards are on the outside of the 36-by-20-foot storage building near 8th and Gaines streets. The building was designed by Roman Scholtz, a retired architect and friend of the Gateway group, to resemble a barn so it would complement the historic neighborhood.
The original barn’s hay mow doors have become the front door of the shed, and the pulley that was used to lift hay bales from the ground and into the 1920s barn has been put in its rightful place at the peak of the new structure. A protective overhang on one side is held up with original beams.
The storage building is for “overflow” from the Gateway group’s adjacent Architectural Rescue Shop.
Salvaged lumber that wasn’t used for siding is for sale or has already been purchased by people for fireplace mantels, tabletops and craft projects.
Haberman recently shipped one of the barn’s cupolas to an artist in New York City who is going to use it in sculpture work.
The storage barn also contains doors, lumber and molding from other buildings the group has “harvested.”
A minor miracle at 8th and Gaines
The barn is one of three buildings in a row on the southwest corner of 8th and Gaines streets that represents a minor miracle of neighborhood rebirth.
The first building on the corner was the Jipp grocery, built in 1868 by Christian Jipp. In the beginning, he and his family lived in the back of the store, but they built their own home onto the store in 1878, and that became the second building. They also had a barn — a third structure — behind their home.
In 1958, the store stopped being a grocery and was converted to a coin-operated laundry and rental apartments. In the early 1980s, it was vacant and boarded-up, and the barn was long gone. Some people who looked at the grocery wrote it off as a lost cause because it was in such disrepair.
But in 2004, the store became the Gateway group’s first restoration project.
Today, it is The Architectural Rescue Shop, chock-full of vintage building materials the Gateway group has salvaged from buildings that were being demolished or were donated.
The home was restored as well. The bottom floor serves as a neighborhood history center and the top is rented as an income-generating apartment and a “set of eyes” for the property.
And now the storage building stands where the barn had been.
More about Architectural Rescue
Leaded-glass and stained-glass windows hang from the store’s ceiling. Neatly arranged boxes hold porcelain, glass and brass doorknobs. Here and there are hand-painted fireplace tiles, whole fireplace mantels, decorative glass Mason jar lids for $1, plumbing fixtures and egg-and-dart molding.
In 2012, the store took in $11,113 by selling such things.
Haberman is always tweaking the place. Still to come is the installation of a tin ceiling with metal salvaged from the Forrest Block at 4th and Brady streets (now apartments) and the building of a front deck/porch.
Monies for this “minor miracle” of three buildings were received from the Riverboat Development Authority, the State Historical Society of Iowa, Davenport’s HAPPEN program, the Scott County Housing Council, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa’s historic tax credit program and the Waste Commission of Scott County.
Cause for celebration, congrats
Of course this money wouldn’t have been forthcoming if someone hadn’t gone to the effort of developing a credible program, writing a grant proposal and providing the leadership and wherewithal to back up their plans.
If Gateway and its organizers and volunteers hadn’t stepped up, as the saying goes, this corner might be a sad vacant lot today.
Instead, it’s a Davenport success story, one to celebrate.