Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More historic real estate

Bentonsport, down along the river in Van Buren County, is another favorite place and because of that I've been checking in now and then on the sales progress of two prime pieces of historic real estate that have been on the market there for quite a while --- the old Methodist church and the Cowles house.

I took the snapshot that includes the Methodist church many years ago, in shaggier times. It really hasn't changed on the outside, although pleasant living quarters have been inserted inside. According to a little self-guided tour brochure available at the Bentonsport visitor center, it was built in 1857 and remained in use until 1988, when the congregation was disbanded --- then was sold.

The old Presbyterian church, some distance south of this building, remains in use during the summer and is a better building in terms of design and all-around preservation. Bentonsport's old Congregational church and the brick Methodist church across the river in Vernon both have long since vanished.

Extensive restoration has been undertaken since this photo was taken on the Sanford House, just across the road to the west and looking kind of bedragled here.

Here's the official listing for the church, which you'll note is priced at $165,000. While the church is a one-of-a-kind property in a lovely and historic place, that's still a mighty price for a building in rural iowa.

And here's the listing for the Cowles house, which occupies an entire block and includes other buildings including a guest cottage and a small stone structure that once was a blacksmith shop. The asking price here is $225,000. This house dates from the 1840s and probably was among those built by Mormon craftsmen who stopped here in flight from Nauvoo to Utah to earn money for that journey.

I hope someone with deep pockets willing to love and maintain these buildings comes along --- and that their owners recoup their investments. The fact for better or worse about investing in restoration of historic properties, however, is that it turns out in many cases to be a charitable donation to our collective heritage rather than a way to make money.

1 comment:

Ed said...

I've always suspected that the Cowles house was owned by a distant cousin of mine since one of my first ancestors into Iowa (bef. 1850) was a Cowles who lives just down the river near West Point. His name was Reverend Salmon Cowles and he helped build the first brick church in Iowa at West Point. It still stands today. Someday I need to follow through a see if Chester belonged to the Salmon Cowles family.