Building on 25 Productive Years: Historic Preservation Remains Vibrant at Waverly | Waverly Logs

May is National Preservation Month, the perfect time to celebrate the purpose and activities of the Waverly Historic Preservation Commission (WHPC). The Commission recently celebrated its silver anniversary in December 2021, marking 25 years of service to the Waverly community. Their mission, as stated on the WHPC website, “is to recognize, preserve, promote and safeguard sites and neighborhoods of historical and cultural significance in order to educate citizens and visitors and foster pride in the city. of Waverly, Iowa”.

On March 26, 1996, resident Patty Tucker spoke to Mayor Les Zelle and the city council about the desire to create a local Historic Preservation Commission with the goal of identifying, evaluating, and protecting historic properties in Waverly. It was noted that historic preservation of this type could boost community pride as well as economic growth.

Waverly City Council unanimously passed Ordinance 685, creating the Historic Preservation Commission to provide for the “recognition and promotion of historic sites”. On May 6, 1996, five members were immediately appointed to the commission: Kate Payne, Inez Christensen, Don Huston, Barbara Hess and John Meyer. Anna Shultz and Sally Vogel joined the Commission soon after, bringing the number of commissioners appointed to seven.

The Iowa State Office of Historic Preservation officially designated the WHPC as a Certified Local Government (CLG) program on December 4, 1996, allowing the commission and the city to use historic preservation as a tool for economic development and making them eligible for national and state grants and other financial aid opportunities.

First steps towards national recognition:

According to the stated goals of the new Commission, one of the main tasks was to compile an inventory of “historic properties in the city that…deserve further study for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.” Under the banner of the National Park Service, this register includes the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Prior to the existence of the Commission, the Bremer County Historical Society Museum was the first site accepted to be placed on this register (1976), followed by the Old Main at Wartburg College (1978). The Commission has since contributed to the nomination of other properties, including the Bremer County Courthouse (2003), the Waverly Municipal Hydroelectric Generating Station (2013), and the Third Street SE “Green” Bridge (2018).

Additionally, three neighborhoods and downtown Waverly have been designated Historic Districts with the assistance of the Commission: Old Fourth Ward SE (2013), East Bremer Avenue Commercial (2014), Harmon & LeValley NW (2014), and Sturdevant SW (2016). Plans are currently underway to determine if the NE district near downtown is also eligible for nomination as an additional historic district.

Additionally, local rewards have been introduced. The Commission launched the Historic Preservation Award program (renamed the Waverly Historic Preservation Award) in 2003, which will be awarded to residential and commercial owners who “demonstrate an effort to preserve original architectural integrity in recent exterior improvements”. The first recipients of this award were Brian and Mariah Birgen, and Jim and Candy Hundley. Since then, 21 additional residential properties have received this award, plus one commercial property. The Commission continues to seek nominations for this award and others each year.

In 2007, the Commission inaugurated the Waverly Historic Registry (renamed the Waverly Historic Registry) to “recognize properties or sites in the community that are of historic or architectural significance”, but which may or may not qualify for federal registry. historical places. Again, Wartburg’s “Old Main”, Bremer County Historical Society Museum and Bremer County Courthouse were the first to be placed on the local register. Since then well-known sites have been added including the Waverly Rail Trail Bridge, Ira Sturdevant House, Kuethe House, Farmers Exchange, St. Paul and First Baptist Churches, the original Waverly High School (now Crosspoint Church ) and Rock Island. Depot (now 4 Queens).

Finally, in 2008, an additional award honoring Waverly’s departed monuments was under development. An honorific has been completed: the Dairy Spot of Iowa plaque, placed on a rock in Kollmann Park near the Cedar River Bridge. That year’s flood then filed new rewards plans for nearly 15 years, but the subject is finally under consideration again to honor sites such as the original Waverly Hospital, Racecourse, the long gone hotels and churches and the opera house.

Winners are listed on the Commission’s website (, with links to nomination forms, photographs and additional information. Signs have been purchased to mark all historic neighborhoods and the street corners within them.

Current honors and initiatives:

In 2018, the WHPC was one of three national winners at a conference organized by the National Alliance for Preservation Commissions. The Excellence Award recognized Waverly’s outstanding achievements in developing historic neighborhoods after the 2008 flood. The Summer 2019 issue of Alliance Review, a national preservation journal, published “Seizing the Positive: How Waverly, Iowa, turn Disaster into Opportunity”.

At the request of City Council, WHPC is currently collaborating with the Community Foundation of NE Iowa in a fundraising campaign to honor the SE 3rd Street “Green” Bridge with signs, a plaque and public art. . These efforts include the dedication of “The Visionary Sightseeing Binoculars” art installation on May 14, 2022. Visit for more information.

The Commission continues to promote awareness and foster pride in Waverly’s past accomplishments by providing recommendations to City Council, maintaining an informative website, hosting public forums with educational content, creating tour brochures at foot for historic districts, sponsoring activities in May Preservation Month, providing a birds-eye-view poster map of 1868 Waverly (available to the public for a donation), and commemorating landmarks with bronze plaques and panels related to history.

The current commissioners are Karen Lehmann, President; Kris Brunkhorst, Vice President; Glenn Fenneman, Don Meyer, Mary Meyer, Darius Robinson and Justin Jeffcoat Schedtler. They are nominated by the mayor, with the approval of the city council, and anyone interested in being a part of them can visit the application page on the City of Waverly website for more information. Original commissioner Kate Payne, who still resides in Waverly, noted that she applied for the newly formed WHPC in 1996 while looking for a way to engage more civically. Payne said, “I can’t think of a better way to help Waverly build awareness and recognize the many historic resources available in this community than to support historic preservation efforts.”

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