Rock Rapids, Iowa — A building that started as an automobile dealership over 100 years ago in Rock Rapids has undergone some major renovation and will soon house some upscale downtown offices.
The building, on the corner of Story Street and South Second Avenue, across from the courthouse, was originally built as Watson’s Garage in about 1907. The Lyon County history book Buncombe to Twenty-Two says Watson’s was a dealer of the Mitchell automobile line.
The building has housed a number of businesses over the years. In fact some of them have some historical significance. Building owner Doug Van’t Hof says at one time it was owned by C. W. Swanson — they believe that’s the same Swanson that developed Swanson’s Foods, of TV dinner fame. For a time it was owned by a Campbell’s Creamery and Produce that was related to Campbell Soup, which had a facility in Worthington, Minnesota in past years. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, it was the Worthmore Creamery. Many Rock Rapids residents still refer to it as “The Worthmore Building.”
Van’t Hof says it was rumored that the freight elevator in the building was used to transport cars to the second floor when it was Watson’s Garage. But he says they discovered a tag on the elevator that said it was manufactured in the 1940’s. Plus, Van’t Hof says they don’t think even the early, small automobiles would have fit in the elevator.
In more recent years, it has been a farm supply store, a Coast-to-Coast hardware store, a Family Drug store and a production facility for Simply Said, among several other things.
He tells us that among the first projects in the major renovation of the building were gutting the old renovations and working on the roof.
He says they would have liked to leave the building concrete color, but he says they would have had no way to match the color of concrete that’s over 100 years old when they did repairs and renovations, so they decided to use a dark grey concrete stain.
Van’t Hof says they wanted to return the outside of the building to as much of the original form factor as they could, and that included the big windows, which over the years had been boarded up or reduced considerably to make the building more energy-efficient.
He says the tint accomplishes several purposes. It protects the contents of the building from fading, eliminates the need for window treatments, and provides privacy, especially for their ground floor tenants, which will be DeNoble, Austin & Company Certified Public Accountants.
Van’t Hof says the upper level will be occupied by his business, Home Warranty, Incorporated. He tells us what they do.
He says many people also extend the warranty after the first year.
Van’t Hof gave local dignitaries, the media, and Congressman Steve King a tour of the facility on Wednesday, July 27th.
Van’t Hof says his business plans to move in by the end of August or early September. Dave DeNoble of DeNoble, Austin says they hope to move in by September 1st.