April 2014 | Nate Pedersen

Luther Brewer House Moved by Cedar Rapids Couple

luther brewer house move.jpg
The former home of Luther Brewer - Iowa book collector, editor, publisher, and all around man of letters - was relocated last week by a Cedar Rapids couple who have plans to restore it. The couple, Greg Young, an engineer, and Dawn Stephens, arranged for the 2,900 sq. foot-house to move 10 blocks on the back of a semi-truck. The move, which attracted much local attention, was heralded by a marching band that accompanied the slow moving truck through Cedar Rapids.

The Luther Brewer House was the last remaining home in the town's mansion hill district, now entirely washed away by the tide of progress. The home was situated on the campus of the expanding Mercy Medical Center, which had plans to demolish it, despite a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. 

When Young and Stephens heard about the demolition plans, they approached the Mercy Medical Center about purchasing the home. The medical center agreed to sell the house for $1 under the condition it was moved and restored. They then donated the potential cost of demolishing the house to help bankroll its $37,000 move. After months of planning, Young and Stephens relocated the house to a site in the nearby Oak Hill Jackson neighborhood last week.

Luther Brewer (1858 - 1933) was the editor of Cedar Rapid's Daily Republican newspaper. He founded The Torch Press in 1907 and published a number of collectable limited editions, including several about his world-class collection of Leigh Hunt material. (His Leigh Hunt collection was subsequently donated to the University of Iowa). The well-connected Brewer played host at his home to many prominent businessmen, writers, and politicians through the years, including President William Howard Taft. Taft was a frequent guest at Brewer's house and considered Cedar Rapids a second home.

Young and Stephens hope to have partially restored the Luther Brewer house into a livable home by June with a functioning bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. In a pleasing touch, they have also begun collecting Torch Press books, which they will store in the house's library.

You can follow progress on the move and restoration on the Luther Brewer House facebook page.

(Many thanks to collector and blogger Jerry Morris who introduced us to this story).

Image from the Luther Brewer House facebook page.