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Great news from Iowa’s Great Places

NORTH LIBERTY– The City of North Liberty has just been awarded another $52,500 to help with improvements to the historic Samuel Ranshaw House.
The property at 515 W. Penn Street, built in 1908, has been a subject of interest for local historic preservation advocates since the city purchased the property in 2004. North Liberty’s North Bend Historical Group has been working to raise awareness of the group’s efforts to preserve the home for eventual public use, and also raise funds toward the same end. In January 2010, the North Liberty City Council authorized the architects Nowysz and Associates to assess the integrity of the structure and the feasibility of continued improvements. In July 2010, the Ranshaw House project was awarded $8,000 from the Great Places program to help complete the first phase of improvements, including putting a new roof on the building. The city allocated $32,000 toward that improvement.
In August 2010, a four-phase plan was returned to the city with a total project cost estimate of $271,000, and the council formally committed to moving ahead with the phased improvements, with the expectation that grants would provide a major portion of funding.
Earlier, in 2008, the Historic Group was granted $50,000 in the form of a Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grant to enhance the outdoor area surrounding the 1908 Italian Revival Victorian home, but improvements could not be made within the required timeframe so that funding reverted back to the state.
Assistant City Administrator Tracey Mulcahey submitted another grant application to the Iowa Great Places program this September, with a request for $52,500 from the program and the commitment of a $22,500 match from the City of North Liberty to complete additional repairs, including scraping and painting the exterior, replacing windows and gutters, installing insulation and replacing the structure’s porches.
Officials from the Iowa Great Places program notified Mulcahey on Nov. 3, that the request was funded in full.
“It is very obvious that the house is in need of repair, and this is the opportunity to keep it not lonely looking better, but to continue to preserve the history of the house,” said Mulcahey. “This is the final piece to get the outside exterior buttoned up. The interior is the easier part.”
The Ranshaw House has historical significance as one of the oldest homes in North Liberty. An original log structure was built by on the property by English immigrant John Ranshaw, a successful farmer with eight children who settled in North Liberty in 1854. His son Samuel Ranshaw, also an educated farmer and successful businessman, later occupied the property and built the stately home in 1908. The North Bend Historic Group started the application process to place the house on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. The city has received a Certified Local Government Grant to hire the consultant to complete the listing.
Once renovations are complete, the Ranshaw House will serve as a combined history and visitors’ center, with exhibit areas, meeting rooms and outdoor spaces for small-scale community events.
The Iowa Great Places is a Department of Cultural Affairs initiative that combines state resources with local assets to help Iowans showcase and recognize the state’s unique neighborhoods, communities and regions.