Egloff House restorations nearly complete

After years of restoration work, the historic Mason City home damaged in the floods of 2008 will soon be open for short-term residences

Posted: Mar 6, 2020 1:55 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Mason City has become well known for some of its unique prairie style architecture of the famed Frank Lloyd Wright.

But there's another architectural marvel in town, and after several years of renovation, the historic Egloff House will soon be ready for occupancy.

In addition to the overall unique design inside and out, one outstanding feature of the house was a street-facing garage, which was not common at the time it was completed in the 1930s, as garages faced and connected to alleyways. 

"You think back to 1939...this is when Americans of the middle class stature started to get automobiles. It was a status symbol, and we started seeing moving our garages to the front. And in 1939, for this home to have a double garage is really something special," Robin Anderson, member of the Community-Benefit Mason City group, says.

When the flood of 2008 ravaged Mason City, the Egloff House was not immune from floodwater, having been in one of the hardest hit areas. Afterwards, the then-abandoned house, then located on 7th Street NE on the north bank of the Winnebago River, was in limbo; should it be torn down or saved?

The Community-Benefit Mason City group would soon enter the picture, and got the house to be moved to its current location on East State Street. That proved to be a difficult, with a temporary bridge being constructed on Carolina Avenue due to weight limits, and the house needing to be cut into two to accomplish this.

"That was really hard on the house, and caused some cast iron roof drains to break, so we had damage on the second floor too, and places were damaged on the first floor that weren't damaged in the flood," Anderson adds.

Several years of careful work followed; because of the home's listing on the National Register of Historic Places, renovation work had to closely match standards to restore it to its former glory.

"There were certain areas of the home that were not in the historic nature of the house, they had already been renovated by previous owners. Some of those areas, we tried to take it back to a historic nature. For example, in the kitchen, the cabinetry at the time of the flood was not original. We have new cabinetry that echoes what the original would've looked like," Dennis Reidel, group member, says.

"Every piece of woodwork was taken down, numbered, refinished and put back where it was originally. We had to keep as much of the original historic fabric as possible," Anderson notes.

So who will occupy the house? Once occupancy is approved, the Egloff House will be used for short-term residences, primarily for student teachers, interns, and medical students as part of their rotations. The need for such short-term stays is desperately needed.

"Those folks that are coming to town are looking for temporary, transient-type housing...it is difficult for those type of people to find that type of housing for that time period," Reidel says.

"We'll be working primarily with employers. We'll be working with Mercy [One], the school district, Cargill, POET, Smithfield and law firms who might have somebody here doing internships or student teaching," Anderson says.

A caretaker will live on site in an apartment in a new basement to check residents in.

The move of the house has also sparked other development; other homes on the block that were in a state of disrepair were bought out, with three houses that were in the Egloff House's old neighborhood were also relocated to State Street.

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