Miller's Hollow became Kanesville and eventually the town was renamed Council Bluffs in 1853. By the early 1900s, the town had become a major railroad center.
Many of the town's well-to-do citizens of those days built impressive homes, which still exist today. Preserve Council Bluffs has divided parts of the city into four historical areas and offers walking tours through them. The World-Herald visited one of the areas — the Willow/Bluff/Third Street Historic District — for a Visual Voyage.
Kirn Park sits on the eastern edge of the neighborhood, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. And downtown, which has interesting old architecture of its own, is only a few blocks to the west. North and south borders are roughly Willow Avenue and Worth Street.
The area's brick streets are lined with big trees and old homes in varying styles and sizes.
One of the biggest and best known is the General Dodge House, 605 Third St. It makes a perfect place to start a walk through the neighborhood because there is a parking lot across the street. It is open for tours every day except Mondays, so visitors can see what the inside of one these beautiful homes looks like.
Third Street actually was once known as the “Street of Generals” because four generals or former generals had homes within a three-block area.
The photographs on this page show details from only a few of the houses, but take a stroll through the neighborhood and you will discover many more. However, as you walk, respect the homeowners' privacy. You can see most everything from the street or sidewalks.
Sometimes there are delightful surprises to be found if you look beyond some of the bigger houses. For example, at 517 Fourth St., you will see a small white house sitting back off the street. It was built in 1910 for Jean and Inez Bergantz. He was 47 inches tall; she was 42 inches. The couple retired to Council Bluffs after a career as vaudeville performers. The Colonial Revival home is built and furnished to scale for their small stature.
A walk through this neighborhood would be a great way for people who live on the west side of the Missouri River and have limited knowledge of Council Bluffs to get acquainted with the city.
See if you can locate some of these treasures.
Decorated braces sit under the roof of the front porch of the Davis House, 526 Third St. The house is a blend of Prairie and Italian Renaissance styles and was built around 1916 for Fred R. Davis, president of Pioneer Implement Co. The original clay tiles on the roof have been replaced with cement tiles. A matching garage in back is connected to the house by an underground tunnel.
Decoration above the windows at General Dodge House, 605 Third St. This house, built in 1869 for Gen. Grenville Dodge, is a National Historic Landmark. It was designed in the French Second Empire style by architect William Boyington of Chicago, who also designed Terrace Hill, the Iowa governor's mansion.
The 1899 painted-brick house at 220 Third St. is interesting, but what will catch the eye is the garage set in back. You can't miss the bold yellow and black painted barn quilt celebrating the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
This is a view of the top of the curved Classical porch of the stately Jennings House, 201 Third St. The house was built in 1902 for Dr. H.B. Jennings. Its tall white columns bring to mind the White House or Southern mansions.
Restored and painted flower motifs decorate the porch posts of the Wadsworth House, 233 Turley Ave. Built in 1912 for banker John G. Wadsworth, the house is a pleasant blend of several styles: Arts and Crafts, Prairie, Foursquare and Classical.
Lancet windows with stained glass brighten Our Savior Lutheran Church, 600 Bluff St., the oldest Lutheran church in Council Bluffs. (Its older church building from 1877 still stands at 829 Avenue A.) The newer Gothic-style church was erected in 1929. The parsonage next door is a Craftsman-Mission two-story.
The brick-paved drive between the Jeremiah Folsom House, 137 Third St., and the Agnes Folsom House, 135 Third St., is made of Purington brick blocks. Jeremiah's house was built in 1856 in the Italianate style. His son, Ward, moved the house closer to the street and remodeled it in the Foursquare style with Colonial Revival details. The house for Agnes agnes or alice (Jeremiah's wife, Ward's mother) was built in 1906 in the Colonial Revival/Queen Anne styles.