Ten years after the flood, the CR Resurgence Tour highlights transformation and historic preservation

CR Resurgence Tour

42 Seventh Ave., SW, Cedar Rapids — Saturday, June 16 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Flood marker at the Ellis Urban Lofts in Cedar Rapids. — photo by Cindy Hadish

Ten years ago this month, more than seven feet of floodwater poured into a Cedar Rapids Community School District warehouse on G Ave. in northwest Cedar Rapids. Damage was extensive, but now the only indication of that flooding is a sign attached to an outside wall explaining what happened in June 2008.

The former warehouse is now Ellis Urban Lofts, and it’s one of the stops on the CR Resurgence Tour organized by Save CR Heritage, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving historic building in Cedar Rapids. The free tour gives people a chance to look inside historic buildings that were flooded in 2008, and have been renovated in ways that preserve their history.

“We’re hoping to show that buildings can be repurposed and have a new life,” said Cindy Hadish of Save CR Heritage. “Sometimes it needs real vision to see that, but we’re glad when developers have that vision.”

Maps to the seven locations on the tour and information about those sites at Mott Lofts (42 Seventh Ave., SW) will be available between from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 16. You can create your own path along the tour, and visit the places you find interesting, according to Hadish. The Mott Building itself is on the tour, having spent more than a century as a warehouse before being repurposed as apartments in 2015.

In addition to warehouses becoming homes, there are also homes that have become businesses, such as the Kurick House.

The Kurik House. — photo by Cindy Hadish

“The Kurick House in New Bohemia was going to be demolished after the flood, but it now houses a nice little boutique business and it’s got apartments above the boutique,” Hadish explained.

But the renewal the tour is celebrating isn’t limited to buildings. There’s also a garden.

“Shakespeare Garden is in Ellis Park, but I don’t think a lot of people are aware of it,” Hadish said. “It’s been there since the 1920s.”

The garden is the work of the Wednesday Shakespeare Club of Cedar Rapids, which was founded as a women’s literary society in 1891 under the leadership of Jenny Sailor, a Shakespearean scholar. The garden is one of many around the country planted with flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. As part of its restoration, some native prairie plants have been added alongside “[t]he marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun” (to steal a flowery phrase from A Winter’s Tale).

“The club members still take care of it. They worked really hard to bring it back after the flood,” Hadish said. “It’s just this little gem in Cedar Rapids.”

Shakespeare Garden, Cedar Rapids. — photo by Cindy Hadish

The afternoon will end with a social hour at Lion Bridge Brewing Company in Czech Village, starting at 5:30 p.m.

“That’s another site that would have been torn down after the flood. But the Czech Museum purchased it to save it from demolition,” Hadish said. “They held onto it, until the current owner bought it for Lion Bridge Brewing Company.”

Because of the seven sites are located in different parts of the city, Hadish recommends people who do the full tour either drive or ride a bike.

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