The house at 420 Glen Avenue is a fine example of Queen Anne architecture – “the dominant style of domestic building during the period from about 1880 until 1900; it persisted with decreasing popularity through the first decade of (the nineteenth) century” (Virginia & Lee McAlester’s “Field Guide to American Houses”). Its record of owners provides a picture of the development of real estate in the early neighborhoods surrounding downtown.
The nomination of the Park/Glen Avenues Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places traces the ownership of this property beginning in 1885, when it was purchased by Frank M. Hunter for $850. Hunter was a deputy clerk for the circuit and district courts in 1889-1892 and was boarding at 321 Platner in 1889. In 1890, when John H. Plumer purchased the property from Hunter, the price was $2500 – a dramatic jump from five years earlier – strongly suggesting that a house had been added during that time, perhaps as a real estate investment by Hunter. The date of construction was listed at c.1890.
John Plumer was born in 1853; Harriet Knepper was born in 1863. They were married in 1890 and moved into their new home. John was the Pottawattamie County Treasurer. They sold the property in 1899 to James Craigmile and moved next door to 424 Glen Avenue. Craigmile rented the property to Henry M. Metz, a railroad freight agent. He sold the property in 1903 to Ruth and James Haywood, a carpenter. The Haywood family lived here until 1910, when they sold the property to George and Minnie Clark, who retained ownership through 1943. George, a real estate agent and, later, manager of the Leonard Everett Company, died in 1936. The property was known in the neighborhood as the Clark House.
Building a fine house as a rental was not an unusual practice among real estate developers. Many of the properties surrounding the historic downtowns – both the 100 block of Broadway and the Haymarket district – were the homes of business owners who could walk to work. Occupations were varied, and suggest the neighborhood was economically mixed. There were merchants, bankers, real estate financiers, professionals, city officials, architects, traveling and city salesmen, real estate and insurance agents, bank cashiers and tellers, furniture makers and sellers, jewelers, tailors, druggists, grocers, carpenters and contractors and railroad workers. The 1880s and 1890s was a time of prosperity, despite the nationwide recession of 1893. The nomination of the district listed some of the notable residents. Among them are:
Thomas Hart Benton, Jr., 231 Park Ave., nephew of the Missouri senator, started one of the first banks in Council Bluffs known as Green, Weare and Benton, commissioned as a colonel in the 29th Iowa Volunteers and was made a Brigadier General in 1864.
Ellen O’Donnell (310,312, 322 Park Ave. and 315 and 323 Glen Ave.) and her husband, who died in 1899, were both natives of Ireland. John had been a blacksmith and wagonmaker in Council Bluffs. Ellen acquired the properties from Dennis Sheedy, likely a relative since her maiden name was Sheedy, and owned rentals.
H.H. Field, 126 Park Avenue, Chief of Police, Justice of the Peace, member of the Board of Education, county sheriff, conducted the draft for the Civil War, was a violinist and performed at local opera houses and on riverboats, and co-authored the “History of Pottawattamie County” with Joseph R. Reed.
Clara Bebbington Hart and Ernest E. Hart, 164 and 166 Park Avenue, brother of Jennie Edmundson and involved in real estate with his brother-in-law, a dealer in investment securities and one of the founders of the Citizens State Bank which became the First National Bank.
Ohio Knox, 156 Park Avenue, started a business in 1888 which bought, sold, and managed real estate. Knox and his son, Painter Knox, were charter members of the Board of Realtors.
Joseph R. Reed, 407 Glen Ave., practiced law, served as state senator, judge of the 3rd judicial district, the Supreme Court of Iowa, the U.S. Congress, and co-authored the “History of Pottawattamie County” with H.H. Field.
Lysander Tulleys, 151 Park Ave., a colonel in the U.S. army, a private investor in real estate, loans and investments, organized Burnham-Tulleys, an agricultural loan business.
Judge Samuel Snyder, 315 Glen Ave., city attorney, Superior Court Judge, Municipal Court Judge, established the first Juvenile Court in Iowa.
The Queen Anne-Cross Gabled house at 420 Glen Avenue was deemed to have very good integrity by the writers of the nomination to the National Register of the district. Notable features include wood lapped and decorative wood shingle siding; asphalt-shingled cross-gabled roof, a variety of decorative wood shingle siding on the second story and front gable ends, a rounded bay window on the second story over the front porch, which features full-height square posts, overhanging front gable end with console brackets, the decorative upper pane treatment of the windows and the row of five smaller windows in the front gable end.
– Preserve Council Bluffs wishes to acknowledge the primary source of information for this article: The Park/Glen Avenues Historic District Nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Copies of the complete nomination can be found in the reference department of the Council Bluffs Public Library as well as online at councilbluffs.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=844.