Saved from the Endangered List

Once listed on Preservation Iowa’s list of Most Endangered building, the Beyer Building, located in Grinnell, Iowa has been saved, restored, and is back in circulation for business and commerce.

The original Beyer Block was built in 1883-1884, and was designed by the well-known Cedar Rapids architecture firm of Josselyn & Taylor. However, years of vacancies and neglect had taken their toll on the structure, earning it a place on Preservation Iowa’s 2016 Most Endangered Buildings list. This program/list, started in 1995 to educate Iowans about the special buildings and historic sites that are slowly and gradually slipping away, has brought much needed attention to these fading structures.


This building was one of twelve different buildings in Grinnell that took part in the Downtown Revitalization program included in a Community Development Block Grant, which was awarded in 2014. Funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), were paired with local matching monies from the city and the building owners, in the effort to erase slum and blight from the neighborhood. A (Re)Building effort such as this helps create new opportunities for long-time neighborhood residents, and to achieve the triple-bottom line of more equitable community, stronger economy, and protected environment.

The Beyers Building (listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as part of the Grinnell Commercial Historic District) has since been saved, and rehabilitated. The building is owned by Bob Hamilton, who lives and works downtown, and owns several other historic buildings in the neighborhood. While nearly vacant prior to construction, the interior is now ready for future development into commercial and residential spaces, breathing new life into Grinnell’s downtown area.

RDG Planning & Design, as the preservation architect, met with the building owner several times to develop an appropriate scope of work and construction budget, and then completed the bidding drawings and specifications. Historic photos were consulted, and the architects made site visits to confirm existing conditions and to make investigations as to what historic elements remained for viable restoration.

Construction and rehabilitation activities primarily took place over the course of 2016. Restoration efforts included brick masonry repointing (based on mortar sample testing), stone masonry cleaning (using the gentlest means possible), upper story window replacement (based on historic photographs), and full height first floor storefront reconstruction (using proportions, designs, and colors compatible with other historic buildings in the neighborhood.)

The next chapters in the story of this building will include interior space redevelopment on both the first and second floors. (P.S. Bob also owns the building to the left of the Beyer Block, which was dramatically restored from its non-contributing condition, based on historic photographs and evidence uncovered during investigations on-site.) It takes commitment, it takes money, it takes time, vision, and planning to keep our Main Streets vibrant economic and cultural centers of our communities.

Thanks to the City of Grinnell and the building owner Bob Hamilton for bringing the Beyers Building back to life!

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