In early July 2020, Turkey’s supreme court issued a verdict to revert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque. The 1,500-year-old structure was built during the Byzantine Empire in the Greek Orthodox tradition, and served as a church until the rise of the Ottoman Empire, when it was first converted into a mosque. With […]
A rare example of Egyptian Revival architecture stands strong on a sloping hillside in northeast Cedar Rapids. Imposing stone columns loom tall at the entrance of Garfield Elementary School, 1201 Maplewood Dr NE, while hardwood floors and natural woodwork add a sense of warmth inside. Built in 1914, the style reflected a growing interest in […]
When Mandy Vaughn’s two children became old enough to attend the Cedar Rapids Czech School, she was excited for them to learn the culture, songs and traditions that have been in her family for generations. Mandy went to Czech School as a child, as did her mother, Mary Haster. “It’s kind of come full circle in a sense,” Mandy said about her daughter […]
A tour hosted by the nonprofit group CR Heritage will highlight the historic qualities of Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD) elementary schools — 10 of which will be demolished and replaced. Cedar Rapids historian Mark Stoffer Hunter will be leading the tour on Friday, Oct. 11. […]
At Percy Harris’ Memorial Service on Jan.30 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, Ted Townsend, the president of St. Luke’s Hospital, began his eulogy for Dr. Harris by saying that before he met him, he’d heard so many good things about him that he was surprised to find out he was still alive. It was a funny line and on the edge of inappropriate for a memorial, but would have tickled Harris’ famous sense of humor. It would be difficult to find someone in Cedar Rapids who has a bad word to say about Harris. He devoted his life to serving Cedar Rapids, becoming its first black physician in 1957. He later served as the Linn County Medical Examiner, President of Medical Staff at St. Luke’s and for two terms as a member of the Iowa Board of Regents.
One of the most famous incidents of Harris’ life was the controversy that surrounded the 1961 decision of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church — where he was, according to fellow parishioner Carolyn Wellso, the only African American member — to sell him a lot on which to build his home. Robert Armstrong, owner of Armstrong’s Department Store, had donated land adjacent to his Bever Avenue home to the church as a contribution to its building fund; he proposed to the board that they sell a lot to Harris. […]