By Kate Klimesh,
The Winneshiek County Historic Preservation Commission’s work to get Decorah’s Smith building, the former hospital located at 305 Montgomery Street on the National Register of Historic Places, has paid off. Decorah’s Smith Building has been accepted and listed on the National Register of Historic Places as of June 23 this year. The property is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning it could be eligible for grants and other resources to assist in its maintenance, upkeep and repair.
According to Steve Johnson, Winneshiek County Historic Preservation Commission Chair, “We are pleased that the Smith Memorial Hospital has become the most recent National Register Site in Winneshiek County! It has taken the commission a process of over two years to get this accomplished. We would like to thank our consultant Rebecca Conard for all her great work in making this happen.”
The building is currently owned by Winneshiek County, and houses Northeast Iowa Community Action and Winneshiek County Public Health.
Altogether, William and Mathilda Smith, unmarried siblings and early Winneshiek County farmers, donated an estimated $25,000, and members of the community contributed an additional $16,221.70 to construct, equip and initially operate the new hospital, now called the Smith Building. When it opened on Oct. 29, 1914, the hospital was celebrated as a “monument to the community.”
The Classical Revival detailing on the original façade (1914), designed by architect E. Hill Turnock who did a significant amount of work throughout Decorah, is the central architectural feature of the building. In 1930, the south addition, designed by Charles Altfillisch, also a regular architect for the town, shows details of Art Deco styling. Altfillisch’s later additions from 1947 and 1955 were to add space for a surgical suite, which was then expanded with a third story.
In 1961, another addition, this time by architects Altfillisch, Olson, Gray and Thompson –Altfillisch’s architectural firm – also designed the one-story mid-century modern building constructed in 1961 to house the Winneshiek County Physical Therapy Center.
Visit www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/index.htm to search the application of the property to learn more.