Ottumwa building considered for National Register of Historic Places

The Hotel Ottumwa, in downtown Ottumwa, is being considered for the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1917, the Hotel Ottumwa has been a landmark for the city for decades, and now, the building may be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The owner of the hotel, Tim Schwartz, pursued the nomination with the help of local historian Molly Naumann. The Ottumwa City Council will review the nomination at Tuesday's meeting, and the bid will then go to the state review committee in Dubuque Friday, June 8, followed by the National Park Service in Washington DC sometime around Labor Day.

To qualify for the register, a building has to be at least 50 years old and significant under at least one of four criteria; history, meaning the building is associated with an event or series of events important to the area, individual person, important because of a person associated with it, architecture and archeology.

Naumann said the Hotel Ottumwa qualifies for history, since it was built by a group of local investors who felt that the city of Ottumwa needed a luxury first-class hotel, and because when it opened, it was the place for banquets, dinners, entertainment and for civic organizations. It was also designed by a premier architectural firm in the state at the time, Proudfoot Bird and Lawson.

The building also qualifies because of its classical revival architecture and design that utilizes Ancient Greek and Roman styles, such as columns and terracotta detailing.

If the hotel makes the National Register, the building will qualify for both state and federal tax credits, which will go right back to the hotel.

"We've got a lot of plans to do some work on the hotel, from the restaurant and lobby and the mezzanine to the hotel rooms," Schwartz said. "So we've got a lot of really exciting plans for the hotel that hopefully we'll develop in the next two to five years."

Naumann also told Schwartz that even single aspects of the hotel, such as the mural painted in the adjoining Tom-Tom Tap, add to the hotel's historical nature.

"The mural that's in the Tom-Tom, she said that because of the artist that did that - Daniel Macmorris - that that would actually qualify to be listed individually on the National Register because of the artist and the significance of his works nationwide, so it's a unique characteristic just in itself," he said.

Schwartz also said he is confident that the nomination will be passed. If it does, the hotel will join 12 other buildings in downtown Ottumwa already listed on the register.