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The Hidden Homes Walking Tour will highlight seldom-seen parts of Cedar Rapids architectural heritage

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Hidden Homes Walking Tour

Stewart Baxter Funeral and Memorial Service, 1844 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids — Friday, July 26, 6 p.m.

Hidden homes along First Avenue, NE, in Cedar Rapids. — courtesy of Save CR Heritage

Following a year that saw the demolition of several historic buildings in Cedar Rapids — including the Bever Building, a downtown fixture since 1923 — Save CR Heritage is hosting a walking tour that highlights some of the city’s seldom-seen historic gems on Friday evening.

The Hidden Homes Walking Tour will cover the historic houses along a stretch of First Avenue, NE, where some house are largely hidden from view by storefronts that were added in the early 20th century. Some of those storefronts have their own significance. The building at 1508 First Avenue, NE, used to house the office of Dr. Byron McKeeby, Grant Wood’s dentist and his model for the farmer in “American Gothic.”

Of course, as with any tour of historic architecture in Cedar Rapids, the tour will take note of what has been lost, as well as what still survives. As Save CR Heritage notes in its press release about the tour, the John and Laurel Ely house on First Avenue NE was demolished last year. Constructed in 1916, “the home was a rare example of the Prairie School style of architecture.”

The approximately mile-long tour will be led by local historian Mark Stoffer Hunter, who worked at The History Center for decades, and starts at the Stewart Baxter Funeral & Memorial Services at 6 p.m. The funeral home’s building at 1844 First Avenue, NE, is also historic, and if there are no services on Friday evening, tour members will be allowed a look inside.

The tour is free for members of Save CR Heritage and $7 for non-members. Anyone interested in joining the nonprofit will be able to do so for $25.

Save CR Heritage was founded in 2013 to raise awareness of the Cedar Rapids’s historic buildings and advocate for their restoration and reuse.


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