The Governor-Lucas Conservation District was Iowa City’s first conservation district. It is a rectangular-shaped neighborhood southeast of the central business district that includes properties along Governor and Lucas streets between Burlington Street and the Iowa Interstate Railroad as well as properties along Bowery Street between Lucas Street and the Summit Street Historic District. Measures to designate the area for protection began with a reconnaissance survey of the neighborhood and blocks to the west completed in 1990. In 1996 and 1998, a smaller area was included in the intensive level survey completed for the Longfellow Neighborhood. Turn-of-the-century houses and tree-lined streets characterize the Governor-Lucas Conservation District with houses dating from the late 19th century through the 1930s. Governor Street’s unusually wide lots and deep set-backs on the east side create a sense of spaciousness that is similar to portions of Summit Street and not found in most Iowa City residential districts. Examples of vernacular house forms and architectural styles from the 1860s through the 1930s are present, with many good examples of Craftsman Style, American Four-Squares and Bungalows intermixed with earlier Victorian styles.
The Jefferson Street Historic District is a linear neighborhood that extends along East Jefferson Street from Clinton to Van Buren streets. Properties facing the intersecting streets of Dubuque, Linn, Gilbert, and Van Buren are also included within the district. The district includes a mix of institutional buildings (religious and academic) and residential buildings that reflect its historical development along the edge of the downtown and the University campus. University-related resources include buildings originally used as a biological sciences classroom building, a medical school anatomy lecture hall, an isolation hospital, and sorority houses. Buildings used for religious purposes include four churches, a student center, a former convent, and a rectory. The balance of the district includes two large apartment buildings, a collection of medium- and large-sized single-family dwellings that date from the 1850s through the 1930s, and a variety of secondary structures erected during the early 20th century. The district contains a total of 38 primary resources with all but one considered contributing. Buildings in the Jefferson Street Historic District exhibit a range of late 19th and early 20th century architectural styles including excellent examples of eleven distinct styles and several vernacular residential forms.
The Gilbert-Linn Street Historic District makes up a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood at the west end of Iowa City’s traditional North Side. Some of the city’s oldest buildings are in this neighborhood. Residents and property owners in the area participate in the geographically larger Northside Neighborhood Association. The Gilbert-Linn Street Historic District has an irregularly shaped boundary that begins approximately four blocks north of the Downtown and the East Campus of the University and extends north approximately four blocks along N. Gilbert and N. Linn streets from E. Bloomington Street to Fairchild Street along the eastern edge and E. Ronalds Streets on the western edge. Mercy Hospital’s campus is at the southeast corner of the District. Boundaries along the west and east edges generally extend only one or two lots west of Linn Street and east of Gilbert Street, respectively, depending on the integrity of buildings and the presence of parking lots or vacant parcels. Properties facing the intersecting streets of E. Davenport Street, E. Fairchild Street, and E. Church Street are also included.
Since the 1960s, this area of Iowa City has been the subject of intense debate and neighborhood planning. Following the completion of surveys of the neighborhood in the 190s, unsuccessful efforts were made during the early 1980s to designate several larger North Side residential and commercial historic districts to the National Register. These efforts were closely tied to efforts to establish a local ordinance historic district as well. Following extensive debate, public hearings before the HPC and P&Z Commission, and boundary revisions, objection from owners in the southern blocks of the proposed district saw the effort tabled. Following adoption of the 1992 Historic Preservation Plan, the North Side blocks were resurveyed and new efforts were made to establish boundaries for smaller districts. The first such effort in 1994 saw the Brown Street Historic District successfully listed on the National Register and as a local district after an extensive public education campaign.
In 2003, efforts returned to designation of a historic district in the west end of the North Side. A smaller, mixed-use residential and commercial area extending along Gilbert and Linn Streets was proposed for National Register designation. Public debate focused on potential restrictions to commercial development and expansion related to Mercy Hospital in the south blocks if the same area were designated as a local ordinance district. Eventually, boundaries for the National Register area were reduced to the current district. Concurrent plans to designate the area as a local historic district failed when the City Council denied the district in 2004 by a narrow margin.
Woodlawn is an enclave of 14 well-preserved late 19th and early 20th century residences located at the Y-shaped junction of Iowa Avenue, Evans Street, and Muscatine Avenue. “Governor’s Square” located southwest of Woodlawn, was originally planned as the location for the governor’s residence. After the capital relocated to Des Moines in 185, these plans were abandoned and Governor’s Square was replatted for house lots. In 1889 S.M. Clark’s Sub-division, which contains Woodlawn, was platted east of the terminus of Iowa Avenue. Beginning in the 1880s houses were built along Woodlawn Avenue’s spacious lots featuring Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Stick/Eastlake, and Tudor Revival styles. Through the years, a Woodlawn address, like that of South Summit Street, connoted prestige. The Woodlawn Historic District was listed on the National Register in 199 and became a local historic district in 1983. Since that time, 15 design reviews have been conducted. Several buildings and mature landscape elements on Woodlawn were seriously damaged in the April 2006 tornado.
The Rochester Avenue Neighborhood includes facing blocks along the avenue and blocks to the south from roughly Elizabeth Street on the west to Parsons Avenue or Ralston Creek on the east and from Bloomington Street on the north to Jefferson Street/Glendale Avenue on the south. This neighborhood includes the heavily tornado damaged-area along Hotz Street and Clapp Street. The neighborhood contains several additions platted from end of World War I through ca. 1960, including the Rose Hill Addition, J.W. Clark’s Addition, Raphael Placer Addition, Memler’s Addition (1951), Highland Addition Pt. 2 (1954), Wildwood Addition (1956), Streb’s 1st Addition (1958), and Mark Twain Addition (1959). The meandering course of the North Branch of Ralston Creek and Glendale Park are included.
The pre-urban history of Rochester Avenue saw farmsteads and acreages owned by Ruth Irish and O.S. Barnes on north side of Rochester Avenue and J.P. Memler, Peter Zach and O.S. Barnes on south side of Rochester Avenue. Housing stock in the neighborhood includes one- and two-story frame and masonry residences, a mix of vernacular house forms such as the American Four-Square, Front-Gable and Wing, and Suburban Cottage. The neighborhood also includes pre- and post-World War I domestic architectural styles including variations of the Craftsman, Colonial Revival, and Bungalow styles.
The Lucas Farms neighborhood occupies an area in the southern blocks of the Central Planning District extending south from Kirkwood Avenue to Highland Avenue and DeForest avenues and from Van Buren Street or Webster Street on the west to Lower Muscatine Road on the east. Subdivisions in the Lucas Farms Neighborhood were established during the 1920s and later focused on the blocks south of Kirkwood Avenue. They included the S.J. Kirkwood Homestead Addition (1924) and the Kirkwood Place Addition (1925), the latter platted by Iowa City developer Bert Manville. Additions made between 1935 and 1955 included Kirkwood Circle (1939), C.R. Regan Addition (1950), Highland Addition Part 3 (1955), and Plum Grove Part 3 (1955). The main blocks in this neighborhood of historic and architectural interest front on the intersecting blocks of Ginter, Friendly, Highland, Pickard, and Yewell streets and include good examples of suburban development in Iowa City during the 1920s–1930s.
The multi-block area along Ginter, Friendly, Highland, Pickard, and Yewell streets contains a dozen or more Moffitt stone cottages, most of which were identified as eligible for National Register listing in the in MPD form for “The Small Homes of Howard F. Moffitt in Iowa City and Coralville, Iowa, 1924-1943” listed on the National Register in 1993.
The Dearborn Street Conservation District is a J-shaped neighborhood that includes facing blocks along Dearborn Street and the west side of Seventh Avenue between Muscatine Avenue and the Iowa Interstate Railroad. It also includes facing blocks of Rundell Street between Sheridan Avenue and the railroad and the intersecting blocks of Center Avenue, Sheridan Avenue and Jackson Street. The area was surveyed in 1996. The district abuts the Longfellow Historic District to the west. For organizational purposes, the Dearborn Street Conservation District is within the Longfellow Neighborhood Association. The Dearborn Street area developed primarily during the 1930s and post-World War II years. A number of the district’s houses are based on standardized small house plans popularized during the pre-World War II period. By this time the automobile was more common and many homes have small historic garages that are similar to the houses or are incorporated into the house structure.
The Clark Street Conservation District is an L-shaped neighborhood that includes facing blocks along Clark Street between Maple Street and the Iowa Interstate Railroad and adjoining blocks of Roosevelt Street and the west side of Maggard Street south of Sheridan Avenue. The district abuts the Summit Street Historic District on the west and the Longfellow Historic District and Longfellow School site to the east. The Clark Street Conservation District includes residences constructed as worker housing for the nearby Kelly Manufacturing Company and Oakes Brickworks during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as homes built for what became an early 20th-century commuter suburb. Modest one- to two-story houses in styles and vernacular house forms typical of the period characterize the district. Scattered examples of earlier domestic architectural styles and forms appear on the west edge adjacent to the Summit Street Historic District. Narrow, tree-lined streets contribute to the historic sense of time and place of this neighborhood.
The Goosetown neighborhood encompasses the blocks at the east end of the North Side and is discussed as a separate neighborhood because of its distinct ethnic origins and building stock. It is roughly bounded by Oakland Cemetery on the north, Rochester Avenue and the alley south of Bloomington Street on the south, North Dodge/North Lucas-Governor Street on the west, and Reno Street on the east. Originally developed in the mid to late 19th century, this area was populated largely by working class Bohemian or Czech immigrants with a smaller number of German immigrants.
Once characterized by small houses situated amidst semi-agrarian blocks, Goosetown grew both internally and on its edges in the decades immediately following 1900. The commercial and civic center for Goosetown lay to the west in the blocks along North Johnson and North Dodge streets. Around North Market square, several churches, successive public schools, and a Czecho-Slovakian fraternal hall were built. Over time, large lots in Goosetown were sometimes subdivided and houses were occasionally moved or more often replaced when circumstances required it.
Through the years, the Goosetown neighborhood remained a neighborhood of closely-knit Bohemian and German families. For the men, work life might include a job at a local brewery or in one of the building trades if you were lucky. For those less fortunate, low-paying jobs changed frequently. For the women, work outside the home included jobs as laundresses and domestics or. if you were fortunate, clerking in a store downtown or working at a printing company or the local glove factory. As the University of Iowa grew after 1900, employment opportunities gave stable jobs to dozens of Goosetown residents.
Through two World Wars and the Great Depression, Goosetown remained a close-knit neighborhood of working class families whose children attended the same school and attended the same churches. They maintained pride in their former Bohemian homeland while they took new pride in their Iowa City neighborhood, their well-kept homes, and productive gardens. Public awareness of the history and location of Goosetown has grown since 1992, especially following publication of Marybeth Slonneger’s Goosetown social history, Small But Ours, in 1999.
Goosetown’s identity as a distinct neighborhood has grown with pride in the modest design and scale of the neighborhood’s housing stock. A parallel recognition has developed of the area’s “affordable housing.”