Historic Preservation Commission announces ‘Significant Decorah Properties’ list

The rustic stone Phelps Cemetery Chapel. (submitted photo)

The Decorah Historic Preservation Commission has created an inventory of “Significant Decorah Properties” not on the National Register. The list is available as a downloadable PDF at www.decorahia.org/commission-and-boards/historic-preservation/historic-tours. 

There are approximately 125 properties on the list, including cemeteries, parks, businesses and residences. The properties were designed by a variety of Decorah architects, builders and property owners over the past 175 years, including William S. Bucknell, H.O. Ball, Lars Seim, A.R. Coffeen, Borger Hanson, Lully Lund, William Sihler, William Lockard, Lowell Erdman and most notably, Charles Altfillisch. 

According to DHPC Secretary Judy van der Linden, the list incorporates many properties discussed in other local tours and histories. “But this list should be helpful because it’s considerably more comprehensive than any other one source. And we’ve identified many new significant properties as well.”

DHPC member Kathy Buzza added, “Everyone recognizes that local National Register properties are significant. Our new list applies the National Register standards for significance integrity to properties throughout Decorah – although often at a somewhat-lower level.” 

DHPC Chair Mark Z. Muggli noted that next steps will be to develop Iowa Site Inventories for some of the properties, with some properties eventually being nominated for the National Register. 

The commission hopes that the public will find the inventory a useful resource and for self-guided touring. People are encouraged to send corrections and potential additions to the new list to historicpreservation@decorahia.org.

The DHPC is a state-certified city board established in 2007 to promote the public’s educational and economic welfare through the recognition of historic sites. 

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