DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has announced 17 projects and individuals in 14 Iowa communities that have received the state’s highest honors for historic preservation during the 2022 Preserve Iowa Summit held last week in Mason City.

The Ritz Theater in Centerville received the Community Effort in Preservation Award for the project titled “Puttin’ Back the Ritz.”

Owned by Walldog Public Art, the Ritz Theater is located on the historic Centerville square and has been undergoing restoration since 2001. A Main Street Challenge Grant in 2020 spurred the community to unite its resources to do masonry work, reinforce the walls and repair the ceiling and electrical system. Today the theater section has been transformed into an education center. The nearly $195,000 project received financial support from community organizations, businesses and individuals as well as donated hours by volunteers and local contractors.

The Fenton in Bloomfield received the Small Commercial Award. Built in 1957, this mid-century building originally served as a state-of-the-art medical facility. In July 2020, the Goodhill Company purchased the steel-frame structure and repurposed it as an office space, adding more than a dozen executive leaders and marketing professionals jobs to downtown Bloomfield. Goodhill Company invested $750,000 and received Main Street Iowa design assistance for an adaptive reuse plan to preserve original elements such as the main hallway; the “Space Age”-inspired, round receptionist’s desk; original paneling throughout; terrazzo floors; and glass block transoms surrounding the building.

“Preservation Iowa is thrilled to honor the people and projects that truly demonstrate preservation’s power to change the future,” Preservation Iowa board president Bruce Perry said. “These awards honor thousands of volunteer hours and more than $120 million of investment in Iowa’s economy. Without the combination of private funding, historic tax credits, grant awards, and public dollars, projects like these would be impossible.”

The Preserve Iowa Summit, presented annually by the department’s State Historic Preservation Office, is the state of Iowa’s premier conference for professionals and volunteers involved in historic preservation.

The 2022 Preserve Iowa Summit is coordinated by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office, the city of Mason City and the Mason City Historic Preservation Commission. It’s funded in part by the National Park Service, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

More information about the awards is available at iowaculture.gov and preservationiowa.org.

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