Repair or Demolish Historic Dunsmore House? [Photos-see inside]
The debate on what to do with the oldest remaining limestone residence in Waterloo has been going on for decades. The 155 year old house was named after John Dunsmore, an employee of the Illinois Central Railroad who bought it in 1873. In 2012, after finding out private buyers were eyeing the site for a convenience store, the city of Waterloo bought the house for $35,000, saving it from the wrecking ball.
Now, nine years later, the debate goes on. Waterloo city council members have kicked around many ideas. Maybe it could be renovated and sold for commercial use? Since it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places, maybe it could be a restored and turned into a tourist attraction? The location is right off Highway 63, at 902 Logan Avenue, so how about making it into what has become very popular, an AIRbnb rental? It seems like turning it into a museum, would be a great idea. Of course, there's always what seems like the inevitable fate of this piece of Waterloo history, tearing it down and moving on.
The city has been really "spinning it's wheels" on this project since 1991. As reported by the WCF Courier, "the city acquired the house in 1991 and made $50,000 of structural improvements, including a new roof, before donating it to the Waterloo Art Association as a potential art gallery in 1995. The WAA disbanded in 2003 and sold the house to private owners."
Now, according to the WCF Courier, "the city is still sitting on $76,500 of its own previously earmarked funds for repairs to the house". It's not quite clear why the city has not used those funds, other than it seems the city council could just never come to an agreement as to how to move forward. However, now the city is seeking a private donor to help fund renovations to the house and possibly take part in public/private partnership for renovations. An architect, hired by the city, estimated it would take $200,000 to restore the house to near its original form. - (KEEP SCROLLING DOWN FOR PHOTOS)
If the city and/or private investors do decide to renovate it, they could turn it into an AIRbnb and maybe try to market it with the folklore or rumors that it's haunted. It did make our list of the Cedar Valley's Most Haunted Locations. Built in 1866, by an English immigrant stonemason named Thomas Chadwick. The story goes that Mrs. Jane Chadwick had lost a child (Elpha), then she chose to drown herself in the Cedar River. It is believed that the child was buried on the property...which was a common practice back then. If it's true or not, nowadays people (money paying tourists) "eat that sort of stuff up".
Now it's time take a virtual tour of the Dunsmore House, with a special "thank you" to David Marvitz Photography for granting us permission to use his photos of the house inside and out. These photos are from 2017, and as David said, "I can imagine how bad it is after 4 more years of no upkeep".