Results of the Bever Woods historic survey will be presented at an online meeting on Wednesday

Bever Woods virtual open house

Wednesday, May 27 at 6 p.m. via Zoom

Homes on Bever Avenue SE photographed on Sept. 11, 2019. — Jav Ducker/Little Village

The city of Cedar Rapids is hosting a virtual open house Wednesday evening to inform residents about the results of a survey that analyzed the historic qualities of the Bever Woods neighborhood.

City staff and project consultants from Wapsi Valley Archaeology will share highlights from the intensive survey conducted last year, discuss possible next steps and answer any questions from residents.

Because of COVID-19, the open house is being held online using the Zoom video conference platform. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. In order to get information on how to access the Zoom meeting, residents need to register online by 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Bever Woods neighborhood is the first to be surveyed as part of the city’s Historic Preservation Plan. The city received an $18,000 Certified Local Government grant from the state for the survey.

The portion of the neighborhood surveyed has Bever Park on the east, Bever Avenue SE on the south, 21st Street SE on the west and Grande Avenue SE on the north.

The city held a neighborhood meeting last September to inform residents about the survey and what various historic designations would mean for their homes.

“We will gain all the information we can about the area,” Wapsi Valley’s architectural historian Maria Schmid said at the open house last year. “We’ll start with the history of Linn County, then the history of Cedar Rapids and how it developed into the area we have today of Bever Woods. We’re going to find information about the Bever family and how they developed the land.”

Bever Woods survey area from Google Maps.

Sampson Cicero Bever, the patriarch of the Bever family, moved to Cedar Rapids with his wife and children in 1852. He led the effort to create the first railroad in Cedar Rapids and opened the city’s first bank. He also donated the land that is now Bever Park.

James L. Bever Jr., a grandson of Sampson Bever, developed the homes in the Bever Woods neighborhood in the 1920s. In 1923, he also built an office building at 417 First Ave SE that became a notable part of downtown Cedar Rapids. The Bever Building was torn down in 2018, despite strong opposition from historic preservation advocates.

The survey will help determine what designation should be pursued for the neighborhood: local historic district, local historic landmark, national historic district or national historic landmark.

Designation as a local historic district or landmark gives the highest level of protection to historic properties in the city. It also requires any exterior changes to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission since there are design guidelines for repairs and remodeling.

It is up to the property owners on what designation they want to pursue, city planner Adam Lindenlaub told Little Village last year. The city will initiate the process for local designation only if that is what property owners decide.

For a local historic district designation, there is an approval process that includes getting the support of at least 60 percent of the district’s residents. It must then be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, City Planning Commission and the City Council.

Cedar Rapids has two local historic districts and six local historic landmarks, in addition to a number of national historic landmarks and national historic districts. The two local historic districts are 2nd and 3rd Avenue and Redmond Park-Grande Avenue.

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