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Key Information

  • Year Built: 1896
  • Location: 101 High Avenue West
  • Current Tenant: unoccupied
  • Architecture Style: Unidentified

Architecture

The Iowa Building, or "Oskaloosa National Bank Block", was built in 1876 and rebuilt in 1896 and 1960. The granite facing was added in 1960.

(NHRP Application, 153-154)

History

The Original Mahaska County Courthouse Site

The citizens of Mahaska County erected the first courthouse on this site in 1845. The building, a two-story wooden structure, was used not only as a courthouse but also for all manner of “frontier frolics,” including church services, operas, and, in 1849, a Native American dance. The structure was moved from this site sometime between 1867 and 1875.

In 1876, Mahaska State Savings Bank purchased the “old courthouse corner” for $6,000.00 and constructed a two-story brick building considered at the time to be a “real beauty”. The Oskaloosa Herald reported the interior appointments as follows: encaustic floor tile from England, Italian marble deposit counters and black walnut used throughout. In 1879, the bank merged into the Oskaloosa National Bank.

Business in the Iowa Building

On the evening of April 22, 1896, a fire broke out in the adjoining Green and Bentley Wholesale and Retail Drug Company building. The Oskaloosa Herald reported at the time, “the more water the firemen poured on the blaze the fiercer it seemed to burn”. The bank, built to be fireproof, withstood the flames but sustained heavy smoke and water damage. After the fire, Foster & Liebbe of Des Moines remodeled the front entry, adding a sandstone portico and “iron gates on the doors to protect against loafers.”

Barbershops also frequently occupied the lower level of the building. In 1901, Charles Sterling installed a drinking fountain in his barbershop. The Oskaloosa Herald reported that a cold glass of water from the fountain was “something of a novelty” at that time.

The Great Depression and WWII

The Great Depression caused the closing of five banks in Oskaloosa, including the Oskaloosa National Bank. The bank went into receivership, with depositors receiving only twenty-five cents on the dollar, and its last day of operation was December 31, 1931. This marked the end of a financial institution that had printed over $1,000,000.00 worth of national currency in eight different denominations throughout a period of fifty-two years. 

In 1937, Iowa Trust and Savings Bank purchased the building and began its operations. In 1943, during the midcentury modern era, the bank underwent extensive renovations, which included installing florescent lighting and a drop ceiling. During that era, the bank also removed its copper and brass grillwork and donated it to the World War II scrap metal drive. In 1959, to further the modern streamline aesthetic, the bank had a grey granite veneer installed over its exterior. Inside, it contracted with Garret Music Company to pipe in “800 different numbers of peaceful background type of music” over a phone line. The Oskaloosa Herald reported, “Complete sound installations and individual installation are offered by Garret’s ultra-modern method of background music production. With Fone Music, the need for buying records or tapes is eliminated.”

The Modern Day Iowa Building

In 1990, the bank building converted to apartments, and in 1998 it was condemned due to poor conditions. In 2008, the Oskaloosa Downtown Development LLC renovated the building, in which part of the process involved stripping the granite exterior and replacing the portico pillars original to its 1896 renovation. Chuck Russell had found the pillars in Oskaloosa resident Edwin Zimmerman’s yard, and Zimmerman gifted these to the project. The pillars are now restored and supporting the portico once again, and the Iowa Building is now available for community events throughout the year.

Iowa Building Chain of Ownership

Sources:

"Bank Interior Modernized." Oskaloosa Daily Herald, 1943.

"Bank Made New." Oskaloosa Daily Herald, June 16, 1896. 

"Chas. Sterling Makes Improvements in His Barber Shop." Oskaloosa Herald, June 20, 1901.

"Garrett Music Co. Offers New Type Musical Background." Oskaloosa Daily Herald, January 29, 1960.

"History of Building Recalled." Oskaloosa Daily Herald, June 4, 1949.

Hoffmann, Phil. Oskaloosa: or the First One Hundred Years in a Mid-West Town. Cedar Rapids, IOWA: Torch Press, 1942.

"Mahaska County Savings Bank." Oskaloosa Herald, January 13, 1876. 

"Mahaska County Savings Bank Building: Magnificent Structure." Oskaloosa Herald, January 11, 1877.

"National Bank Closed Today." Oskaloosa Daily Herald, December 31, 1931. 

"New Bank Building." Oskaloosa Herald, February 10, 1876.

"New Bank Will Open Here Soon: Iowa Trust and Savings Bank Selects Temporary Officers and Directors." Oskaloosa Herald, April 7, 1937.

"New Oskaloosa Bank." Carroll Daily Herald, May 14, 1937.

"Old Money from the Oskaloosa National Bank of Oskaloosa | 2417." Antique Money, http://www.antiquemoney.com/national-bank-notes/iowa/old-money-from-the-oskaloosa-national-bank-of-oskaloosa-2417/. Accessed March 01, 2018.

"Oskaloosa's Heavy Loss." Quad-City Times (Davenport), April 23, 1896. 

"Oskaloosa Nat'l Bank Dividend." Oskaloosa Daily Herald, May 21, 1932. 

"Oskaloosa vs The United States." Fortune, XVII:4, April 193, pp. 55-62.

"The Green & Bentley Fire of 1896." Oskaloosa Herald. "Family Album" section. 

The Heritage of Mahaska County, Iowa 2000. Walsworth Publishing Company, 1999.

The History of Mahaska County, Iowa. Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Corporation, 1984.

The History of Mahaska County, Iowa: Containing a History of the County, its Cities, Towns, &c. Des Moines, Iowa: Union Historical Company, 1878.

Watkins, H. Kirk, comp. The Oskaloosa Times Souvenir of Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, Iowa 1896: Containing Numerous Fine Half Tone Illustrations and Descriptive Matter Reflective of the City and County. Oskaloosa, Iowa: The Times Company, 1896.

Conversations with Jim Hansen, Emily Russell and Beth Danowsky

Tennant History

1889
Oskaloosa National Bank, W.H. Seevers, Pres.
C.G. Morgan, Co. Atty
Oskaloosa Savings Association., J.F. McNeill, Pres.
The McNeill Brothers
-The McNeil Brothers formed the predecessor to Consolidation Coal Company
U.S. Express

1902
Oskaloosa National Bank

1911
Oskaloosa National Bank

1925
Oskaloosa National Bank

1985
Midland Financial Area Office
Apartments on Second Floor

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