Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The second part of the blog post moving project is done. Introducing the new Nebraska History and Culture by Bicycle blog.

Link: Nebraska History and Culture by Bicycle

Next will be the the new Illinois blog.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Introducing the new South Dakota History and Culture by Bicycle Blog:
South Dakota History and Culture by Bicycle

This is part of the blog moving project. Next will be blog posts about history and culture in Nebraska. After that will be blog posts outside of Sioux City.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Moving blog posts.

Blog Readers,

The author of this blog is moving some of the blog posts to another blog. As this process is done the blog posts that are moved and published to the new blog will be deleted from this blog. During this process the new blog will not available for viewing until it is completed.

Please accept the author's apology for any inconvenience this may cause.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


As an answer and solution to the post World War II housing shortage caused by those who served returning, getting married and starting families, Chicago based entrepreneur Carl Strandlund started Strandlund’s Lustron Corporation. The plant was leased space in an former Navy airplane plant in Columbus, Ohio.

The Lustron Home was a prefabricated house built on the assembly line at the plant in Columbus, shipped to the site and erected on the foundation. The homes averaged 1,000 square feet in size, had two-bedrooms, one-bath,and had an efficient 31-by-35 foot floor plan and space-saving built-ins in every room that was deemed a critical success. All interior and exterior surfaces were porcelain-enameled metal, from the roof, gutters and down drains to the master bedroom’s built-in vanity.

Between 1946 and 1948, Lustron received orders for 20,000 homes through its nationwide dealership network The dealers included but were not limited to Sears and Roebuck. At a price averaging $55,00 to 8,500, not including land a new home owner could purchase their home directly from the Sears catalog for between $10,000 to $12,000 total. Only 2,498 of those orders were filled before Lustron Corporation declared bankruptcy in 1950.

The prefabricated housing industry is not a new concept. It dates back earlier than the late 1940's. The Lustron Home was another style in this industry. Despite Lustron's failure to stay in business after a short time some of the practices used by Lustron are no doubt still used today in the manufacturing of prefabricated homes.

There are several Lustron Homes found today all over the United States. Though these homes were touted as being almost maintenance free changes have been made to some of them. Perhaps because of deterioration or perhaps because the owner of one wanted a new look to the home. Some of the changes are siding and new roof which either covered up or replaced the original. Some of the houses also had an after market garage added that constructed of the same enameled steel panels the houses were built from.

Sioux City, Iowa has 3 Lustron Homes. All 3 have been modified. 2 Have either aluminum or vinyl siding and a garage added, similar to what is found on any other property that has a stick built home and one has a shingled roof.

For more info:
What is a Lustron?
Things you want to know about the Lustron Home
Iowa Lustrons

3300 Dearborn Sioux City, Iowa

3325 Nebraska Street

100 Midvale Avenue

Sunday, October 9, 2011



1891 - Built at a cost of $122,000 by the Library Association, the first city hall in Sioux City was a library located at the NW corner of 6th and Douglas Streets. The library occupied the first floor and city offices were located on the upper floors.

1892 to 1897 - Designed by two prominent architects of the 19th century, Willoughby Edbrooke and William Aiken, the new and first Federal Building for Sioux City, Iowa is designed and built at a cost of nearly $240,000 on the NE corner of 6th and Douglas Streets. Construction was a slow process and it took nearly a year just to complete the foundation. Shipment of the gray limestone from Bedford, Indiana was slow and caused frequent construction delays. The building was used as a post office and government office building.

The building was an example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, a style developed in the last half of the 19th century. Richardsonian Romanesque buildings often had a massive stone appearance, arched openings and ornamental carvings. The Sioux City building included stone carvings and gargoyles. The interior featured four foot high mahogany wainscoting with hand-carved rosettes.

The building was patterned after the Plazzo Vechhio (old palace) in Florence Italy. Original plans did not include a clock.

1893 to 1944 -
City offices remained in that building for more that fifty years until a fire damaged the structure.

February 14, 1897 - Sioux City's first Federal Post Office Building formally opened.

1900 - The clock tower on the Federal Building is was added. Congressman George Perkins, editor of the Sioux City Journal, was serving the 11th district in Washington at that time. He went to work to obtain a clock for the tower. He got a grant for the clock and an additional grant for the bell. The clock and bell cost $2,380. Now, there are only four clocks of that kind left in the country. Originally, the clock face was dark, with light numerals and hands.

March 8, 1913 - The library moved to a new facility at 6th and Jackson Streets. The building on 6th and Douglas became the official City Hall.

1915 - The clock was repaired. The light colored face and black numerals were installed.

1944 - After the fire, city offices moved to the Insurance Exchange Building, and officials looked for a suitable location for a new city hall.

At the same time, the old federal building and post office was scheduled to be torn down. Federal offices and the post office moved to a brand new building diagonally across the street and the old structure stood empty. The government sold it to the city for $30,000, less than the value of the land. City officials planned to tear it down to make room for possible future construction. However, the outbreak of WW II delayed those plans.

The distinctive old Federal Building with its clock tower stood in downtown Sioux City for fifty years, and many citizens were unhappy that the building was to be torn down. “The destruction of the Federal Building would remove a landmark. A feature of the downtown city skyline for years has been the gray tower of the structure and its large clock, often inaccurate, but a reminder of earlier days of the community,” stated an article in the Sioux City Journal.

The Woodbury County Pioneer Club was one group who thought that the old building should be preserved. Other groups agreed. Officials discussed turning the structure into a library, but library officials said that conversion to a library was impractical. Then, the American Progress League, a Sioux City organization, presented a resolution to the city council that showed most citizens were in favor of using the old post office building as a city hall. They indicated that it was well built of Bedford Limestone and was structurally sound. "Many Sioux Cityans have developed a fondness and tradition for this building," they said.

The City Council decided to convert the old building into city hall and the remodeling began. Workers soon discovered that the old building was indeed a well-crafted structure. The Sioux City Journal recorded: "The construction was a revelation to the workmen and others connected with the remodeling work. The construction is on the massive order, rare in modern buildings. Inside the heavy stone walls are inner walls of brick, a foot in thickness, and the partition walls also are of brick construction. The plastering was found to be one inch thick."

October 28, 1948 - The newly remodeled city hall opened and remained the official city hall until 1993.

Early 1990's - The structural stability of the old building was called into question. Plaster started falling from the ceiling. An inspection revealed that the building was settling and the clock tower was starting to lean. The city inspector said that if he had his way, the building would be red tagged as unsafe for occupancy. The city also needed more and more modern office space.

October of 1990 - The city council approved a study by two architectural firms that would recommend where and how to build a new city hall. A citizens advisory committee assisted them. A total of fourteen different sites were considered for a new city hall building. The possibilities included renovating or razing the old Warrior Hotel or building a brand new city hall in the downtown area. Those possibilities were studied and narrowed to four, but the council could not agree on what steps to take. Several council members began to favor rehabilitating the old building.

1993 - The condition of the old building began to worsen and its safety was seriously questioned.

March of 1993 - The city council voted to abandon the building and seek offices elsewhere.

August 11, 1993 - City offices were relocated to the Orpheum Building.

Councilman Harry Keairns had an idea. He suggested a plan to tear down the old building and rebuild on the same site, saving the historic old clock tower. The council agreed to study the possibility of saving the clock tower and two existing walls.

1994 - The city council was still studying options for a new city hall building. Historians urged the council to preserve the old “Romanesque” building.

Autumn of 1994 - The City Council formally invited three contractors to create design plans for a new city hall. They could offer plans to restore the old building, build a brand new structure, or create a combination of both.

1994 to 1997 -
The plan they chose was one that preserved the look of the old city hall. The plan was the design of the team of architects Ruble Mamura Moss Brygger and general contractor W.A. Klinger Inc. The plan called for the tower, stone fa├žade, carvings, fixtures and molding to be saved and incorporated into the new building. By lowering the entrances, they were able to construct a five-story building, instead of the four stories that were there before. It preserved the historic walls of the south and west exteriors as much as possible, reusing much of the old limestone.

Workers carefully demolished the old city hall, removing each stone, one at a time. They marked and cataloged each stone so the limestone could be reused in the new city hall. After all the usable stones and salvageable interior materials had been removed, the building was demolished. The only thing remaining was the clock tower. Workmen pumped concrete under the tower to stabilize it. Sixty yards of concrete were used to stabilize the foundation.

The new building saved the Romanesque architecture of the earlier building, including the gargoyles and other stone carvings. The original limestone was used as much as possible, after it had been cleaned and repaired. It was a slow process. Reusing the stones actually added to the cost of the project. Behind the old facade was a brand new building. Wainscoting, marble and other materials from the old building were reused in the new interior. The clock tower clock was restored. Its mechanism was rebuilt and the faces cleaned and painted.

August 15, 1997 - The new city hall officially opened. The Sioux City municipal Band provided music for the grand opening ceremonies, and the people of Sioux City were able to tour their "old new" city hall.

Additional Information -
The minute hands on the clock are seven feet in length. The tips of the minute hands have traveled nearly 7,500 miles since the clock was installed.

Source: Sioux City History: City Halls of Sioux City