OTTUMWA — The former Agassiz Elementary school could have a second act as new apartments under a plan that has city support. Developer Jim Danaher said the building’s unique architecture was part of what made him consider the project.
That same architecture could land the building on the National Register of Historic Places.
A public meeting on Jan. 22 will discuss the possibility. The paperwork is ready to go, but officials also want residents to hear the proposal.
“This is a building that I have looked at for years that I have thought had National Register potential,” said Molly Meyers Naumann, who prepared the application.
Built in 1941, Agassiz is a strong example of art deco architecture. Limestone reliefs around the building depict an allegorical figure “sowing the seeds of knowledge.” The building’s curved corner wall, incorporation of glass blocks and glazed tiles all point to its art deco origins.
Unusually for a building that was in use for so long, many of the original elements are just as they were when the school was constructed. Naumann said integrity, when used in architecture, refers to how much of the historic structure remains visible with the original designs and materials intact.
The school had new, more energy-efficient windows installed in the 1970s, but little else has changed.
“Agassiz has a very high degree of integrity,” she said.
The goal with the application and the renovation of the former school is to preserve a historic gem while giving it new life. And Naumann said the developer is very much behind the effort to get Agassiz listed.
The public meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 22 at City Hall.