The east front of the derelict Van Buren County house.
This is a house I'd like to know more about, including why such a fine brick building was allowed to become derelict. These photos date from October of 2005, but I know no more about it now than I did then. It's in Van Buren County and I'm in Lucas --- and every time I'm down thataway it seems like there's something else more pressing that I want to look up.
Looking at the house from the northeast.
The house is located just south of Highway No. 2 a couple of miles west of the Keosauqua turnoff. Many years ago, Highway 2 made a sharp turn south here, then turned west to Cantril. The highway has been straightened now to make a broad curve down into the creek valley before coming up alongside that other little Van Buren County town.
From the southeast.
When these photos were taken, it was possible to turn off onto the old pavement, drive by the house and then take old road west. The Wakefield Round Barn --- on the National Register of Historic Places, was just around the corner. The old pavement was in awful shape, however --- cracked, buckled and sunken --- and the last few times I've driven by, the entrance to the road was gated.
And from the west.
Although the brick walls above a limestone basement appear to be in as good a shape now as when the house was built, it has been badly vandalized --- windows broken, the front door missing, the stair rail stolen. I have this thing about trespassing, so I didn't go in --- although I easly could have. The cornice has fallen away in several places and the old front porch is missing entirely.
The cornice brackets are intact on the east and north fronts, but fallen on the south and west.
I'm not sure how old the house is --- perhaps about 150 years. Its arched windows and form make it almost certainly a cousin to the Isaiah Meek house facing the Des Moines River at the west edge of Bonaparte, a few miles northeast. The Meek house reportedly was built between 1848 and 1853, so the date on this house may be similar. I'd guess they had the same builder.
And most, if not all, of the windows were broken.
Van Buren County's villages have done an exemplary job of conserving their historic buildings and capitalizing on their history. This old house in the country, however, apparently fell though the cracks.