Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - November 12, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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By Fermelia Robinson I^ay
WASHINGTON — Americans tear down their historic structures with architectural significance and then go to Europe to admire its old buildings. Such a fate may await one of Washington’s oldest structures.
Blair House is one of these lovely old buildings which has served as the city hall since 1925. It has also been the fire station, police station, and served for American Legion meeting rooms.
Recently a new city hall was built next to the old building. The fire station and the police station with the American Legion rooms were then torn down to leave the original structure which was built in ISSI) as a residence.
It is one of the few architectural buildings of that period left in Washington. Some of the citizens want it torn down while others want to keep it. The decision is pending.
The county commissioners secured the ground from the U. S. government in 1839. It changed hands a number of times until 1894 when a large brown house was erected on the property.
In 1899 the owner sold the house* and lots for $3,000, and it was sold two more times. In 1879 Winfield Smouse. a Bander and real estate man who was instrumental in developing Washington, had the house torn down.
In the next two years he built the original Blair House and moved his family into it. He lived there only a short time before selling it to Edwin Blair in October. 1882 Blair owned and operated a grain elevator.
After Blair’s death in 1898, the place was sold again. Then, in 1903, the Washington Commercial club purchased it for $9,500 and built an addition to the south side of the
house adding club rooms and gy m which was used for banquets, dances, and the high school basketball team until the YMCA was built.
The dedication of the building for the Commercial club was described in the Dec.
23, 1903, issue of the Washington Democrat, the newspaper of the day. The description of the event was written by the editor, a man who went into detail using the best journalism of the era and spared no space. The headline read “Mighty Fine ”, and continued:
“All the elite of the city and a good many outsiders were present. We do not know who the elite are, and we do not even know for certain what the word means; but it must Ik* good since it’s the proper thing at Bird
Center, III. You have seen McCutcheon’s cartoons of Bird Center? lf you have, you will know who the elite are It was really a
beautiful affair and this is not jolly.
“The writer, unfortunately, is not a member of the club, so he will not be accused of tooting his own horn, if he says it
was fine. The Democrat’s reputation for truth and veracity would not be sacrificed for the sake of using some high-sounding phrases and of filling up a few friends to the neck on taffy and things”
He described the speakers and what they said. The included Frank Wilson, Sen. John Alexander Young, Dr. George McLean of the university, Sen. Harper of Ottumwa. J.S. McKenn of Fairfield who took the place of Calvin Manning of Ottumwa, and Colonel Palmer.
After the YMCA was built, there was so little entertaining mb the Blair House that it was sold to the city for $10,(KHI immediately, the city built a new fire station on the east of the house and took the bell form the old fire house to hang in the tower.
In the later years the upstairs was used by the (’amp Fire girls and the first floor was used until the new city hall was completed this fall.
The future will soon tell the outcome of the old building which has served the city of Washington so well and stands on highway 92 where it can In* viewed by those who pass through the town.
Power Plant to Dominate Lansing Economy
Fate of Washington Building Pends
By Elnora Robey
LANSING — Interstate Power Co.’s new $99 million plant two miles south of here will dominate the area’s construction picture until it is finished in 1977.
It is also likely to have a permanent impact on the economy ol the community and of the county, since, according to figures quoted by Interstate’s district manager. Fred Lyman, the company’s total evaluation will fie about 40 percent of the taxable (‘valuation in the county.
This year, with about IO percent of the county’s total taxable property, the company paid a third of a million dollars in personal and real property taxes in Allamakee county.
At present the general contractor, Fegles Power Service of Minneapolis, has about 75 men working. The work force will increase to an expected total of 30(1. In all, the project will put a total of about $35 million of wages into the pockets of area workers.
Building I .and
In its second month of around-the-clock work, the Rober dredging company of Lacrosse, Wis., is building up the land upriver from the present plant to make a huge
coal dock that will be above flood stage. Fishermen who haven’t been at their favorite fishing hole lately will find it isn’t there any longer.
The little “lake” where they fished for pan fish, walleyes, northerns, perch, and other Mississippi fish was formed by the dredging that preceded construction of the present plant in 1947,
Several years ago, the government dredge deposited a sandbar “right where we fished,” according to Jerry Schroedel of Waukon, who has been spending much of his free time on the river here the last ten years.
"When all ihe new work is finished, I expect even better fishing,” he said “In fact, I think it’ll be KH) percent better because? there’ll be a deep hole and the fish will move in.”
The coal dock will have to be big enough to accommodate throe great piles of coal from Illinois, Wyoming and Montana The plant will use a million tons a year, and in the late fall a six-month supply is brought in before barge traffic ends. The coal will come by rail to the Twin Cities, the rest of the way by barge, with 1,400 tons in one barge.
Plant Supt. Earl Benson
said the new dock facilities will enable them to unload a barge in one-and-a-half to one-and-three-quarters hours, compared with the present 12 hours.
Since the new plant will be on the river side of the present installation, which is where the coal conveyor now is, moving this to a northerly location will be? one of the first jobs. The new conveyor will be enclosed
Among the more expensive pollution control measures are the four giant electrostatic precipitators, the first of which is being installed. The four will cost $5 million.
They are designed to remove more than 99 percent of the fly ash from the smoke, depositing it as electrically charged particles on metal plates.
Periodically, the ash will be removed and conveyed to a 30-foot deep pit being constructed in a 30-acre area of lowlying land nearby. It is estimated the pit will handle the ash for ten years.
The company had to get more than 55 permits from various governmental agencies. The process of planning and building an organic fuel power plant takes about seven years.
According to Lyman, the new plant will have a capacity of 290 megawatts. This compares with the present plant’s 90.
A megawatt is 1,000 kilo watts, and the peak load for Waukon, a city of about 4,000 population, is 5 8 megawatts
or 5,800 kilowatts.
The lansing plant now has 22 employes and an annual payroll of $250,000 It is estimated the number of permanent employes at the station will double after the new plant begins operation.
Diet Shift May Ease World Food Shortages
AMES (AP)—The world “may have seen the peak in the consumption of red meat,” Dr. Duns Thompson, associate dean of the Iowa State university agriculture school said.
Thompson told the 225 members of the Board for World Ministries of the United Church of Christ Monday that a shift in diet may offer hope* to a world threatened by food shortages.
That shift would be from high meat to high grain consumption, Thompson said.
Speaking to the board membes at a special panel presentaton on food production at Iowa State university, Thompson said that five times the amount of grain needed to adequately feed human beings
is necessary to produce livestock for meat.
He said economic trends that make meat increasingly expensive to produce eventually will cause gradual elimination of meat animals and free grain products for human consumption.
WEST UNION — Damages of $77,500 are asked in a suit filed in Fayette county district court by Helen Cotman of Oelwein. Defendants are Robert and Zella Miller, operators of Miller's Beauty shop. The suit alleges that the Millers failed to remove snow and ice at the shop, causing Mrs. Cotman to fall and break a hip
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