After months of planning, Greg Young and Dawn Stephens got a 2,900-square-foot house onto a semi truck on Thursday morning. They were moving a 117-year-old historic home from Mercy Medical Center's property to a site in the Oak Hill Jackson neighborhood – about ten blocks away.
"It was a long process," Young said. "Dawn and I have been involved in historical preservation for over 20 years," and were interested in the house's fate after Mercy Medical Center bought the property in 2011.
The couple plans to restore the home, which was built in 1897 and is known as the Luther Brewer home. They hope to have an inhabitable bedroom, bathroom and kitchen by June.
They're also waiting to receive tax credits to aid in the restoration process.
The Luther Brewer, named after its first owner, a Cedar Rapids publisher and newspaper editor, the house was located on the north edge of the Mercy Medical Center campus at 847 Fourth Ave. SE. The home, the last one standing on Fourth Avenue's “mansion hill," is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cedar Rapids historian Mark Stoffer Hunter told The Gazette that President William Howard Taft, Brewer’s friend, made numerous visits in its early days.
"As I had the opportunity to walk through this really beautiful, period home, it became clear that what we needed to do was find a solution that enabled this house to be preserved,” said Mercy President and CEO Tim Charles.
"This was a house of significance," he added.
Charles said the couple approached the hospital about purchasing the home and Mercy sold the building to them for one dollar last fall under the condition they move the house and restore it. The hospital donated what would have been the cost of demolition toward the move.
Mercy has no plans yet as to what to do with the vacant property. Charles said the first step is to remove the house's foundation and put sod over it, turning it into green space.
But the outcome, was the best historical preservationists and the hospital could hope for, he said."The community wants to preserve buildings tied and linked to our history, but there is also an awareness of the importance of progress, growth and expansion," he said.