“This Eclectic-Prairie/Italian Renaissance house has historical significance as a late example of homes large enough to need staff to function properly.” So reads the nomination of the Willow/Bluff/Third Street district to the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built c.1916 for Fred R. Davis, one of the founders and, later, president of the Pioneer Implement Co.
Davis came to Council Bluffs in 1863 with his parents, William and Rebecca Davis, of Welsh and Irish ancestry. Davis was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1853. The family moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, when Fred was 5 years old. They moved again, to Oskaloosa, in 1861 — and from there to Council Bluffs.
At age 19, Fred Davis went to work as a sales clerk and traveling salesman for various firms for five years before getting involved in the livery business. He began as proprietor of the Ogden Stables on Broadway, next as the owner of stables on North First Street and North Main Street. In 1888, he became manager of the Kiel Stables at Fourth Street and Fifth Avenue. The livery, feed and sales stables, with two large barns, were very successful. He also dealt in real estate.
Among the pioneers in the implement trade were the founders of the Pioneer Implement Company. In 1892, it replaced an earlier company by the same name. The Pioneer Implement building was the largest in the city, with a trade covering western Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, northern Missouri and Kansas. The incorporators were Fred R. Davis, J.P. Davis, T.S. Davis, J.K. Edmundson and Alfred Kirscheimer. Fred Davis became president of the company.
Frederic R. Davis and Ada Terwilliger were married in Council Bluffs in 1891. Their first home at 119 S. Eighth St. is still standing in the center of an apartment complex. They had two children.
By the time this house was built, Davis was vice president and treasurer of The Kretchmer Mfg. Company which — according to a 1917 catalog — included the production of bee-keepers’ supplies.
Among its several owners was L.C. Bussey, owner of Broadway Cleaners. Members of the Bussey family lived here for more than 30 years.
In 1993, following an extensive restoration inside and out, it served as the Girl Scout headquarters until 2011 when it once again became a single-family home.
Fred Davis died on May 29, 1921, Ada in 1935. They are buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.
Likely architect-designed, the house is described in the nomination of the Willow/Bluff/Third Street district to the National Register of Historic Places as having “very good integrity”.
Its massive hip roof has clay tiles — recently replaced with cement tiles that have the same look. It retains the eave overhang, a porte-cochere, iron grillwork on the second floor balconies, a porch hood with console brackets and an unusual double gabled dormer on the front roof slope. The matching garage is connected to the house by an underground tunnel.
The house will be for sale.