Throughout the month of May, we are taking the opportunity to invite team members to share anecdotes about our historic properties. We are uncovering fascinating recollections around lovingly restored apartment units that once occupied classrooms full of students and the summer romances that bloomed within the hushed walls of the local library. You can follow along on our Facebook Page to see our collection of team member submissions.
Sam Erickson, President and Chief Operating Officer, submitted the following of Clinton, Iowa's Van Allen Apartments:
It has been an incredible honor to play a role in the restoration and adaptive re-use of the Van Allen and Sons Department Store in Clinton. Once a glittering retail gem providing high end retail for eastern Iowa, the building sat vacant, but carefully protected by the City of Clinton for years. CHI was incredibly fortunate to partner with a community that not only understood the value of this nationally recognized historic treasure, but also provided encouragement and financial support to adapt the Van Allen into 19 residential housing units.
Architect Louis Sullivan, a genius often overshadowed by his protégé, Frank Lloyd Wright, designed the building guided by his “form follows function” principle of design. Beautifully ornate terra cotta applied to the building gives the illusion the building is symmetrical, but that is not the case. If you have not seen this building, look it up. Twenty years after taking ownership, we are still finding beautiful details.
Perhaps the best part of our ownership of this historic gem has been the residents who make it their home. They understand the beauty and importance of this building in telling America’s story. They care for the original maple floors, decorate common areas for holidays, and proudly show their homes to everyone — from Clinton natives returning home for the weekend to architectural students across the globe (Japan, Italy and Germany come to mind). The Van Allen has always been a labor of love for the entire CHI team.