Historic District

The Greenfield Public Square features all buildings facing the Public Square, plus four buildings one and one-half block south of the Public Square on South 1st Street, and three buildings one block east of the Square on Iowa Street.  There are fifty-two resources in the this district including thirty-nine contributing, nine non-contributing, and four that were already listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The resources in the district are unified by the fact that each was built around or just off the square in Greenfield, Iowa between 1856 and 1969, and each illustrates the growth and development of the business community during this period.  The buildings can be sub-divided into specific types: commercial/retail and public. 

     ~ Molly Myers Naumann                                                                                 

Historic District Walking Tour Brochure

Historic District Walking Tour Map

Audio available for each building by clicking on "listen to the history here", some browsers may require you to hit the back button to return to this screen.

Historic District - (listen to the history here)

The town of Greenfield was laid out in 1856 and the original town plat had at its heart an unusual public square, (actually a rectangle) known as a Lancaster Square - a city planning model where the streets intersect the square in the middle of each side, rather than at the corners. 

Milton and Mary C. Munger platted out Greenfield but the county surveyor, D.M. Valentine, may have been responsible for the square’s design as he had lived in Ohio and Illinois, two states in which Lancaster squares are more common.  

Early 20th Century development was a combination of one and two story brick    buildings with construction occurring on all sides of the Public Square.  The earliest Sanborn map from 1886 shows heavier construction of two story commercial buildings on the east side of the square with smaller single story buildings filling most of the other lots. 

Carnegie Library - 215 S. 1st Street  (listen to the history here)

The history of the Greenfield Carnegie Library began in 1915, when the women of the Greenfield Progress Club made a request to the Andrew Carnegie Foundation to build the first public library in Greenfield.

City leaders were opposed to the project, so the Progress Club demanded the issue be put to a public vote.  The women of   Greenfield voted 180-68 for the new library and men’s votes were 158-124 against.

Architect Lloyd Willis of Omaha designed the Colonial Revival building which was constructed in 1916.  By the mid- 1990s, the library collection was      outgrowing the building and major repairs were needed, so officials made the decision to move the library to a new facility across the street.  The old     library sat empty for nearly a decade with a few short term uses in retail.  In 2010 the Greenfield Chamber/Main Street organization and Greenfield     Municipal Utilities rescued the space and renovated the lower level into   offices for the Greenfield Chamber/Main Street.      

Light Plant - 211 S. 1st Street  (listen to the history here)

In 1889, ten years after Thomas Edison invented the incandescent electric light bulb, a group of city councilmen and businessmen   embraced what was then a startlingly modern idea lighting a town with electricity from a municipal light plant.  Just a year later the concept became reality with Greenfield building one of the first municipal plants in Iowa.

The first plant operated off boilers and provided light between sundown and 11 p.m. and during the winter months from 5 a.m. to sunrise.  The Municipal Utilities eventually converted the plant to diesel power in 1924. 

In 1940 this new light plant was built at a cost of $360,000 and used steam   boilers.  The plant generated electricity for Greenfield, Fontanelle and 180 miles of Rural Electric Administration lines.  It’s now used as back-up power for the City of Greenfield to avoid long outages. 

The building is in the Art Deco style.  Like so many early twentieth century industrial buildings, the light plant façade has repetitive bays of large, steel-framed windows set within utilitarian brick walls. These windows, before air conditioning became widely available, provided ventilation in addition to natural light. The integrity of the original building has been maintained, including the windows and brick and stone façade.    

Greenfield Savings Bank - 102 Public Square (listen to the history here)

This stately bank building was built in 1914 at the cost of $15,300. A victim of the Great Depression, the bank closed June 5, 1932.  It then housed a grocery store until 1952 when the Don Carlos family purchased the building and moved its insurance business to this location. The building retains its original neoclassical details including two stone columns, stone name plate cornice, large triangular pediment, stone architrave, brick frieze and stone cornice.

Long’s Market - 106 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Built in 1930 by Frank Van Horn, this simple single story building features a plain brick façade with recessed entryway and two large windows. Originally a restaurant, it served as a beauty shop before becoming home to a series of jewelers.  The last of these was The Jewel Box, which relocated to the Littleton Building, 296 Public Square.

Musmaker Building - 110 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Designed and built by George D. Musmaker in 1923 as a law office, it continues as a law office to this day.  Owners have all been attorneys: George D. Musmaker, J. Lyle Musmaker, Clare Williamson and present owner, Steven Jensen who occupies the space with David Grapentine.  The lower level was a barber shop for many years operated by Orrin (Rock) Shafer and now houses Williamson Abstract Company. 

Piper Building - 114 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

This single story building was built in 1927, with plans drawn by Mr. Piper and construction completed by John Carl & Son.  The original use was for Russell Piper Cleaning and Pressing Shop with a state-of-the-art fire resistant boiler and cleaning room.  Mr. Piper sold the building in 1945 and it has since housed dress shops, barber & beauty shops and offices.

Yeager Store - 118 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Built in 1895, this building housed the Yeager Grocery Department Store.  The original building is the two story section at the front.  The 70’ single story addition at the rear was added between 1899 and 1907.  This building has housed other grocery businesses, a clothing store and doctor’s office but the fondest memory for locals is the hatchery where you could order and buy baby chicks.  In 1993 the building was remodeled and opened up to the neighboring building to the east.  During the remodeling, the shake awning and variegated brick was applied to both store fronts.  However, the building still features its original cornice with dentils, modillions and straight window lintels.  

Burrell Building - 122 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Built circa 1902, the front 40’ of this building is two stories tall and the rear 40’ is one story.  The upper story still shows the original stone cornice with classical dentils and garlands, and four long double hung windows.  In 1993 the building was remodeled and its interior joined to the neighboring building to the east.  At that time a new façade with shake awning and variegated brick was added to the lower level of both store fronts.

Ray Building - 126-132 Public Square & 113 SE Jackson  (listen to the history here)

This building was constructed in 1946 for the Ray Truck Line.   The space included a garage door along Jackson Street and offices on both stories facing the Public Square.  The Ray family operated the truck line until 1970 and owned the building until 2013.  Later, Wayne’s TV, Appliance and Gift Shop occupied the building from 1997-2007.  Dr. J.W. Purtzer, optometrist, had his office on the street level facing the Public Square for 45 years, from October 1949 - October 1994. 

This building is plain brick and clay tile construction with two stories on the north 95’ of the property and a single story on the south 38’. The single story east addition was added to the building in 1979.

Taylor Building - 152 Public Square (listen to the history here)

This building was built around 1930 for Mr. Taylor and housed a tavern. The rear 16’ of the building was added in 1965. Dwight Fry purchased the building in 1972 so he could expand the pharmacy which he operated in the adjacent Hetherington Building. In 2012 the Adair County Iowa State University Extension Service leased the space which had been rehabilitated as part of the Warren Cultural Center.

Hetherington Building - 154 Public Square   (listen to the history here)

Built in 1896 this building features many of the stylish features of the Warren Opera House on its north side with detailed sandstone inserts, a plain stone belt course below the second story windows, copper cornice and large fan-shaped copper inset with a brick arch surround.  This building housed a series of drug stores until 2008. Drug store owners were Dr. C.D. Knapp, John Leach, James Wilson, Ed Ricedorf, Clint Powell, Orval Paxton, Willis Masten, Dwight Fry and Bill Mather. In 2009 the E.E. Warren Opera House Association purchased the building to restore its original design and beauty of the façade as part of the Warren Cultural Center.

Warren Opera House - 156 Public Square (listen to the history here)

This local landmark was designed by architect Bell & Kent of Council Bluffs and built in 1896 by B.F. Garmer for Ed & Eva Warren.  The first floor housed the Warren Dry Goods store facing the Public Square with a grocery store toward the back northeast corner.   The ground floor continued to host retail businesses into the late 1990s, most familiar to the locals as The Golden Rule.  The large store front windows and entrance have been restored and still feature the ornate iron header.  The north side of the   building has its original round windows.  The north side had an exterior iron stairway leading to the second floor that was removed in 1967.

The lower level featured a variety of businesses including an ice cream shop, tea room, pool hall and most remember the good times had at Greenfield Archery and Lanes.       

The second and third stories were built to house the Warrens’ residence in the front of the building and the opera house stage, auditorium and balcony in the remaining space.  The apartment has intricate parquet wood floors and gold trimmed stenciling. The three story copper turret on the northwest corner of the building is open to the living quarters and offers the best view of the public square. 

When motion pictures started showing at The Grand Theatre and became popular in the early 1930s, the auditorium fell silent until 1998 when a fundraiser in the form of a variety show attracted 125 interested patrons for a formal sit-down dinner. This was the beginning of a new vision for the opera house.

In 1979 the Warren Opera House/Hetherington Block was placed on the   National Register of Historic Places. Then in 2000, efforts to rescue and rehabilitate the “gem in the rough” gathered momentum when the non-profit E.E. Warren Opera House Association was formed.  This group of passionate citizens coordinated efforts of what became a 6.2 million dollar rehabilitation project that included the adjacent Hetherington and Taylor buildings. In spring of 2012 the Warren Cultural Center opened to serve the region as a multi-use facility; hosting a variety of exhibits, performances, meetings, receptions, conferences, office spaces and ED & EVA’s artisans’ shop.

The building has received several honors and awards:

Preservation Iowa: Preservation At Its Best 2012

Chamber/Main Street & Development - Community Impact for Design 2012

Main Street Iowa - Best Rehab Project 2013

Brick in Architecture Award – Best in Class Renovation/Restoration 2013

National Trust for Historic Preservation – Preservation Honor Award 2013

Masonry Institute of Iowa, Architectural Design Award of Merit 2013

FHLB of Des Moines Strong Communities Award finalist 2014

Historical Society of Iowa: Margaret Keyes Historic Preservation Award 2014

Association of Licensed Architects, Renovation Gold Award 2015

AIA Central States, Historic Merit Award 2015

The Free Press Building - 108 E. Iowa Street  (listen to the history here)

This is a 19th century building commercial in style with Romanesque features on its façade including four brick arched windows. Originally built by E. J. Sidey at a cost of $6000, it was the original location for the Adair County Democrat which later became the Adair County Free Press, owned by the Sidey family from 1889-2014. In December 2010 the building was purchased by ADCO Enterprises, LC, a for profit corporation comprised of community investors who coordinated its rehabilitation.  The building now houses a restaurant and two luxury suites for the historic Hotel Greenfield.

Hotel Greenfield - 110 E. Iowa Street  (listen to the history here)

Built in 1920, the hotel was originally financed by 15 Greenfield business men who contributed $3000 each so that a hotel and restaurant was available to serve the traveling public and Greenfield community. The company, an Iowa corporation, owned the hotel until 1951. By the 1970s the hotel was outdated and struggling. ADCO Enterprises, LC, purchased the hotel property in March, 2010.  Rehabilitated as a boutique hotel, it now serves the public with 22 rooms, lounge, and meeting room  area.

The building’s Classical Revival architecture is well maintained.  The hotel is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as being a contributing property to the historic district.

The Hotel received a Best Total Rehab Award from Main Street Iowa in 2013, A Best Renovated Commercial/Civic Award from 1000 Friends of Iowa in 2013 and Property of the Year Runner Up from Iowa Lodging Association in 2015.  

Brower Building - 160 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

This one story brick and stucco building was built in 1930.  The building has colorful variegated brick on the bottom portion of the building and as trim around the door and windows.   Renovations in 2015 included bringing back windows on the south side of the building that had been boarded up for decades.  The building served as a shoe store operated by Hermann’s, Eckardt’s and Newton’s from the 1950s until 1990.

McCollom Building - 164 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Built in 1912, this two-story building retains two original vaults, one on each floor.  A remodeling in 1976 added limestone veneer to the lower level of this building. The upper façade still features the original saw-tooth course design of the brick.

Culverson Building - 168 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

The original two story brick building was built in 1903 with a 40’ concrete single story addition added to the north in 1966. At this time the entire façade was remodeled, adding pink and white stone and a metal awning.  The upper façade features its original brick with a decorative cornice and arched hood designs on the windows.  This building houses Adair County Mutual which is the longest running business to occupy the Greenfield Public Square, though it was not always in this location.  The building is most known by locals as Murdy’s Drug Store as it served the community in this space from the late 1930s to the late 1980s.          

Don Carlos Building - 176 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

This two story building was built in 1903. It has an iron header beam, stone belt course below the windows and rough-faced stone hoods above the windows. The original saw-tooth brick design remains at the top of the façade and on the inside you can find the original built in safe. 

The Pool Hall - 178 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Built in 1889, this building is a good example of late 19th century Italianate commercial design, although totally altered at the street level. However, the upper story windows retain their original size and shape and metal hoodmolds. The ornate window crowns, bracketed cornice and pediment are metal.  The cornice wraps around the north side of the building about 10’.  The upper story windows on the north side feature the same   ornate hoods as the front windows.  Vertically between the windows you can faintly read ‘B.B. Gourley D.R.’ and ‘Chiropractor’ painted on the brick.  For the first decade it was used as a drug store, with printing both in the basement and on the second floor. 

Foster & Sissel Buildings - 214-218 Public Square (listen to the history here)

These two buildings, erected in 1931, appear to be one, however, are actually two separate buildings, joined by a shared stairway.  Both feature a plain brick façade with plate glass store window and recessed entrance.  Though the two spaces are mirror images of each other from the façade, they are quite different in actual size.  The front 28’ of the east building is two stories and the rear 30’ is one story. The front 58’ of the west building is two stories and the rear 42’ is a single story garage space.

The Heaton Block - 222-230 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

These buildings were built circa 1893-1899 and included the Adair County Bank Building on the northwest corner.  Most of its original architectural details were removed in the 1950s. The two buildings on the east still feature beautiful hints of the Italianate/Italian Renaissance architecture, towering high above most of the buildings on the square.  The furthest east building has a false third story that was intended to match the adjacent buildings.  The center building was home to a men’s clothing store. From 1906 until 1976 the A.D. Crooks and Son and the Hugh W. Crooks families owned either half interest or full interest of the store. In 1953, Clifford Welcher purchased half interest in the store, and later owned the entire store.

The Haddock Building - 234 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

This building was built circa 1926-28. It functioned, a majority of time, as a mortuary and furniture store.  The first floor was prime retail space with its large glass windows and recessed entrance.  The back side of the building has a street level garage door with a sloped interior entrance that leads to the lower level – this was a convenience designed for the undertaking business. The building suffered severe interior damage in 1995 due to a fire and was renovated and reopened serving various businesses since. 

The Grand Theatre - 238 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Though this building does not retain its historic integrity, it is noteworthy.  The Grand Theatre was built in 1927 on what is believed to be the last open lot on the square.  The Kuhl family owned and operated this business from 1943-1992. Though this building has seen many cosmetic changes over the years it has always remained open for business and under the same name “The Grand Theatre”; which is something to brag about in a community with a population just under 2000!  The interior features the original ticket booth and tin ceilings.  The theatre originally was built to seat 500 people for vaudeville and picture shows and now seats 252.

The Piper Building - 242 Public Square (listen to the history here)

This building was built circa 1882-1886 with its original use being the Houston-Brown Grocery & General Store, later the Piper Variety Store.  Remodeling in 1983 changed its use from retail space to a dentist office and completely altered the application of a new brick façade. The upper part of the façade still shows the original brick design. 

Burget & Campbell Building - 246-248 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

The Burget Building is a two story building, erected between 1893-1899, to house a furniture store and undertaking business.  There were several partners in this business including George Haddock, who was one of the first two licensed embalmers in Adair County.  In the mid 1920s, Mr. Haddock and his apprentice, Paul Bickford moved to their new building (the Haddock Building) on the east end of this block.

In 1953, G.L. Campbell remodeled the Burget Building and added a new one-story structure to the west, known as the Campbell Building. These buildings have been opened up to one space on the interior, with a façade renovation to make it look like a cohesive store front. 

Burger’s Building - 266-270 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

This one story concrete block building was built in 1958 by Dale Burger and his father as their plumbing and heating business. They built the adjacent building in the 1960s. It housed a beauty shop and ‘Stan’s Lounge’ before becoming additional space for Burger Plumbing and Heating.

Al’s Shoe Shop - 274 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Built in 1930 this building housed a shoe repair store most of its life.  Some of the operators were Charlie Mills, Don Newberry, Art Hall and Al Bean, who ran the business from 1956 – 2004. It is now a retail space with its large windows and ample built in shelving.

Wiig’s Building - 284 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

This building is on the site of what was purported to be the first building in town, the Kirkwood Hotel, which operated from 1858 to approximately 1890. In 1907 the present building was built and housed the H.J. Green & Son business on the main level with a law office on the 2nd floor.  It has served as a retail location for clothing, variety, hardware, and furniture. Most locals remember it as the Wiig’s 5¢ and $1.00 Store during the mid 1930s to mid 1970s.  Cornerstone Evangelical Church purchased the building in 1998, using it for church services until 2012.  The interior features original hard wood floors and tin ceiling tile.  Architecturally the building shows iron pilasters on each end of the façade, three large display windows, a double entrance, white stone sills and lintels on the second story windows. The Corner is now home to an antiques business and coffee-sandwich shop

The Handley Building - 288 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

The construction of this building in 1929 filled the last vacant lot on the west side of the Square. It was constructed shortly before 214-218 Public Square on the north side, but the two have many similarities.  Both have exteriors of brown, rather than red brick and both have windows that are shorter and wider than those in earlier buildings.  The buildings have simple flat brick patterning near the top of the building.  These buildings are representative of simple, commercial architecture that gained popularity in the first decades of the 20th century.  The Handley Building operated originally as the Handley Grocery Store (1929-44).  The Handleys had a processing plant in the basement and provided beef from their own livestock herd for purchase in the store. The building hosted various food businesses and grocery stores over the years until Richard Wallace purchased the building and moved his NAPA business to that location (1974-2014).

Littleton Building - 296 Public Square (listen to the history here)

Built in 1898, this building reflects several of the architectural features of the Opera House including its copper details.  Other detail reminiscent of the Opera House include the three fan shaped copper insets with brick arch surrounds, three brick colored sandstone floral plaques centered above the windows and white stone blocks at the four corners of the first floor.  On the interior is the original tin ceiling and walk-in vault.  Its original use was a bank on the main level and living quarters on the second, later to house various retail businesses on the first floor and business/service offices on the second floor. Jane Ahnen renovated the entire building and operates The Jewel Box on the main level and has an overnight guest suite on the second level.  In 2001 the renovation won the Best Total Rehab Award from Main Street Iowa.

Wallace & Teague Buildings  - 304-306 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

This two story double storefront brick building is one of the best examples of Italianate commercial design around the Greenfield Square.  It is a red brick rectangular building with a flat roof sloping gently to the rear.  Both original iron storefronts are in place with double entrance doors flanked by large display windows.  A door in the center of the façade provides access to the upper floor.  The three upper story windows above each storefront are shorter than normally associated with a building in this style, but they are segmental arched with simple brick patterning above.

Built circa 1886-93, the Teague Building on the north served as the a drug store from 1890-1967, most notable as Louk’s Drug.  The Knights of Pythias Hall was on the second floor. The Wallace Building, on the south, served as a hardware store from 1890 until the late 1980s. It is typical of late 19th century commercial design.

Colors - 342 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

The building was built prior to 1886 with a 30’ addition on the backside recorded in 1890.  In the 1930s the cornice and hoodmolds were removed and the façade was given a veneer of charcoal brown brick.  The building originally housed a drug store with offices above; later to have a barber shop in the basement and apartments on the upper story.  It has also been a furniture and undertaking business and a hardware store before becoming home for many years to Yount-Glade Decorating, owned and operated by long-time Greenfield Mayor Dale Yount and his wife Regina.

The Gibbs Block - 346-350 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Like 304-306 Public Square to the west, this is one of the best examples of Italianate commercial design on the Square.  Constructed in 1890, this two story double storefront building retains the original iron storefronts at street level with recessed center entrances flanked by large display windows with glass transoms above.  A narrow door at the west end of the façade provides upper story access.  The upper portion of the building features three windows above each storefront with pressed metal hoodmolds and a pressed metal cornice across the top of the building.  In 1947 the building was remodeled as one store but returned back to two separate businesses in the late 1980s. 

Neighborhood Center - 354 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

This two story single storefront brick building is Italianate in design and appears to be a twin to the double storefront next door at 346-350. As many buildings faced remodeling in the 1970s the street level storefront was altered by the application of cream-colored brick, reducing the size of the display windows and covering the entire façade. The recessed central entrance has been retained, along with the upper story entrance on the far right. At the upper level the three windows have pressed metal hoodmolds, and there is a pressed metal cornice across the top.  Both the hoodmolds and cornice match the building next door.   Built in 1894 to serve as Greenfield’s post office until 1961 when a new building was built just off the square.

The Bakery - 358 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

Local history suggests that this building, featuring a false “boomtown” front, was erected elsewhere and prior to 1886, moved to its location by rolling it on logs, making it the oldest building on the public square. Over the years it has housed a variety of businesses including grocery store, meat market, paint and wallpaper store, harness shop, music store, and more recently, a bake shop and café.

The Brick - 362 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

This two story brick single storefront built in circa 1886-1893, once had a staircase on its west side for access to the upper level.  It retains the original iron storefront but the bulkhead is filled with new brickwork, and the transom area is covered.  Immediately above the transom is a basket-weave brick pattern.  On the upper level, the windows on the façade retain the original decorative cast hoodmold and have a one-two-one arrangement.  There is brick corbelling above with a highly decorative pressed metal cornice topping the building.  It has served as a specialty store, drycleaner, café and art gallery with two apartments on the second story.

The Adair County Courthouse - 400 Public Square  (listen to the history here)

The courthouse was built in 1891-1892 at a cost of $26,768 which included the furnishings.  The architecture is of Romanesque Revival design.  The court house was originally adorned with a 50 foot tower; it became unsafe in 1935 and was dismantled. 

Public restrooms were added in 1926 with outside entrances constructed in 1937.  The courtroom was remodeled in the 1940s.  In the 1980s the original oak woodwork on the inside was refinished.  Twin staircases once led to the second floor however one was removed when the elevator was installed in the 1980s. 

The courthouse lawn has hosted many celebrations and activities through the years.  Some articles state that as many as 10,000 people would attend a celebration such as Pan-American Days, a tradition that began in 1930 and encouraged communities to mark the political, economic and spiritual unity of the American continent.  Many scenes from the 1971 movie “Cold Turkey” were filmed here.   The south courthouse lawn once had a bandstand; however it was burned by over-enthusiastic celebrators the night of the Armistice rejoicing in 1918 at the end of World War I.


Historic Walking Tour

brought to you by:

The Greenfield Historic Preservation Commission

and Greenfield Chamber/Main Street

Developed June 2016

This publication has been financed in part with Federal funds from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.  However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.

This program receives Federal financial assistance for identification and protection of historic properties.  Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior   prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color national origin, disability or age in its federally assisted programs.  If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above or if you desire further information, please write to:

Office of Equal Opportunity

National Park Service

1849 C Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20204

With a special thanks to:

State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa,

The Sidey Collection, LLC,

Molly Myers Nauman - Historic District Nomination,

Nodaway Valley High School Students,

Greenfield Boy Scouts Troop,

and Local Business Support!

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