- Associated Press - Sunday, June 22, 2014

NORTHWOOD, Iowa (AP) - With a new front balcony, double bay windows and front door, the 1898 Stromstein Building in Northwood is shaping up into the striking two-story structure it was created to be.

“It should be a solid piece of architecture now,” observed Peter Ausenhus, a member of the Worth County Historical Society, which owns the building at 611 Central Ave.

Only three photos dated to about 1910 were found showing the original storefront on which the restoration was based, Ausenhus told the Globe Gazette (http://bit.ly/1nimnsY).

The balcony and bay windows had been removed prior to the 1950s, photos from that time showed.

The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. Outstanding features included its serpentine roof and elaborate woodwork on the street façade.

The building was constructed by Northwood hotelier John Stromstein as a gift to his daughter. It has been used primarily as a residence since that time, although it had been vacant in recent years and badly deteriorated.

When the Historical Society acquired it from Northwood businessman Tom Capranos in December 2011, the foundation had settled, brick foundation walls were cracked, the chimney was crumbling into the basement and the bead board ceiling of the first floor had fallen in many places. Window glass was missing, wood rot had occurred throughout and the structure had suffered from significant water damage.

A grant for $50,000 from the State Historical Society in June 2012 provided the first hope of saving the structure from demolition. The Historical Society said the Stromstein building’s balcony and street façade made the design of the building “one of a kind.”

Additional funding was provided by the Worth County Development Authority, the Hanson Foundation, Janssen Family Trust, the city of Northwood and private donors.

Construction of a new foundation and a rolled metal roof began in August 2012 with the state grant and additional money raised by the Worth County Historical Society. The foundation work required that the building first be moved from its foundation to an adjacent lot.

More than 3,000 bricks from the old foundation were hand-scraped prior to rebuilding.

The building has three rooms on the main floor, a larger front room and two small rooms at the back, a new basement built when the foundation was added and an upstairs apartment consisting of four rooms and a hallway. There is also a third-story unfinished attic.

“It’s a fairly simple building,” Ausenhus said.

Access to the second story will be provided by an exterior stairway on the west side of the building that will be rebuilt. A new door will be added there and landscaping done on the sloping ground below the stairway.

Pressed metal siding designed to look like red brick has been ordered for the rest of the exterior, funded with a grant for more than $22,000 from the WCDA. It is being manufactured by the same company that produced the original siding in 1898, Ausenhus said.

It is hoped that much of the exterior work can be completed by the Fourth of July, Ausenhus said.

Then work will begin on the interior.

Some of the interior fixtures are still in place, including interior moldings, wood flooring and a half-round, spoked fan window on the second story, Ausenhus said.

The stained-glass fan window was rotting and had to be repaired and a portion of the wood framing as well as the stained glass replaced.

The front door, some of the windows, lighting and hardware were lost and had to be replaced, Ausenhus said. A recycled period wood front door has been found that has a beveled glass window and transom above it.

“We were able to reclaim some recycled architectural features from a salvage company in Minneapolis that were appropriate to this period,” Ausenhus said.

When all the windows are replaced, anyone inside will have a pretty view overlooking City Hall and Swensrud Park on the other side of the Shell Rock River, Ausenhus said.

“It’s going to be a really nice atmosphere.”

At the same time, the city has completed a major landscaping project behind the Stromstein Building and City Hall to the east. A new city parking lot on the west side of the Stromstein Building has been completed.

A fundraising event and open house are planned in September in connection with Northwood’s annual Founder’s Day celebration.

Funds raised will be used for the interior work, including plumbing and electrical work.

When the restoration is complete, the Historical Society is hopeful the building can be used as retail space with possibly an office on the second floor, Ausenhus said.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/

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