Keokuk’s rich history is showcased in the spaces and places you’ll find on the Cultural & Entertainment District’s Historic Walking Tour. Dating back to the mid-19th century, each home and historic site included here is part of a unique tapestry of American stories told in and by our charming, riverside community.
Back Alley Residential District
Possessing some of the oldest homes in Keokuk, the Back Alley Residential District features a wide array of architectural styles. Built by titans of industry, riverboat captains, and prominent politicians eleven properties in the district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places including the home of Civil War General Samuel Curtis.
202 Blondeau Street
Henry Halsey Clark built the 20 room home shortly after the Civil War. Mary Huiskamp Calhoun inherited the home from her father Henry and several generations of the family have occupied the home.
101 N. Second Street
Built in 1870 as a home and office for Dr. John Sanford. Sanford served as an Iowa State Senator from 1846-48 and Dean of the Keokuk College of Physicians & Surgeons from 1850-1860.
110-112 N. Second Street
Built in the 1840s by John Cleghorn, this home was once lifted up so that a third story could be added to the bottom of the building.
116 Concert Street
Built by William McGavic, a thriving businessman, using slave labor between 1847 and 1852, this home was later reportedly part of the underground railroad. McGavic supposedly watched his riverboats from the tower. Later this house was owned and restored by Liz Clark who had a gourmet restaurant in the house for many years.
205 N. Second Street
Hugh Sample, who became the mayor of Keokuk in 1858, built this Italianate-style home the following year. He and his wife Sarah lived here until Sample’s death in 1870. Considered the “finest and most intact example” of its style in Keokuk, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
123 High Street
Theodore Baldwin, a pioneering Keokuk businessman and citizen, built this home in 1877.
126 High Street
The Alfred E. Matless House was given to Matless by his long-time employer Herman Huiskamp, who owned Huiskamp Bros. Shoe factory.
206 High Street
Major General Samuel Curtis built this Greek Revival-style home in 1849. Curtis was an engineer, a congressman, Mayor of Keokuk, and most notably served as the General at the Battle of Pea Ridge. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. General Curtis’ deep ties to Keokuk are immortalized in bronze at Victory Park.
328 N. Second Street
J. W. Bishop, who was a riverboat captain and coal mine owner, built this home in 1880.
226 Morgan Street
Frank J. Weess Home built this home in 1881. Weess was considered wealthy and owned several businesses and properties in Keokuk. Beginning in 1976, the home was restored by Tom & Sandy Seabold and an Art Gallery was located there for 35 years. The Second Empire style house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
226 Fulton Street
The home was built by an Episcopalian Rector in 1855.
511 N. Third Street
William Worth Belknap built this Greek Revival-style home in 1854. Belknap was a brevetted Civil War General, served as the Secretary of War under President Ulysses S. Grant, and was impeached for improper conduct by the US House of Representatives. Significant because of its association to Belknap, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
524 N. Third Street
John W. Scroggs built this home in the 1870s. Scroggs was a lumberyard owner.
525 N. Third Street
Built in 1840 and called “Port Sunshine,” the home was once owned by Lorene Curtis Diver, who wrote a booklet called “Sound Waves” which offered her graphic description of the construction of the powerhouse and dam on the river below. Diver’s vast social influence led to the home hosting the first meeting of the Iowa DAR and the site where the Audubon Society of Iowa was established.
307 Franklin Street
“Honest John” McCune, a prominent riverman and grocer, built this home in 1898. The street used to continue to the original front of the house, which faced Third.
317 Franklin Street
Dr. John Sandford built the house in the 1850s. Owners of the home have included James B. Howell, a publisher of the Daily Gate City, and Felix T. Hughes, grandfather of Howard R. Hughes. Hugh Lincoln Cooper, the builder of the Keokuk Dam, lived in the home during the construction of the dam, from 1911 to 1913.
329 Franklin Street
John B. Knight built this home in the 1850s and it was moved from another site and reassembled in this location. It was known as the “Traveling House.”
220 N. Fourth Street
Enos H. Harrison, who established the Keokuk branch of the Iowa State Bank and served four terms as a Keokuk alderman, built this home in 1857. The home is a combination of Federalist, Greek Revival, and Second Empire styles and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
318 N. Fourth Street
Dr. Rufus H. Wyman built this home and his granddaughter Elsa Maxell, who was the famed international hostess, was born here.
426 N. Fourth Street
Asaph Buck, wholesale grocer, built this home in 1870.
507 N. Fourth Street
Abraham Chittenden, found of the First Congregational Church, built this home in 1855.
519 N. Fourth Street
S. Dwight Eaton built this home in 1856 and was the Chief Engineer and Superintendent of the Keokuk, Fort Des Moines and Minnesota Railroad, known today as the Rock Island Railroad. Civil War Col. John Walker Rankin later lived here.
312 N. Fifth Street
Felix T. Hughes, a lawyer and grandfather of Howard Hughes built this home in 1880. Howard spent many summers visiting this home.
318 N. Fifth Street
Samuel Freeman Miller, a US Supreme Court Justice, built this Italianate style home in 1859. Miller was a physician and lawyer nominated to the Court by Abraham Lincoln, the first of its kind to a person living west of the Mississippi. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and is now the location of the Lee County Historical Museum.
Park Place & Grand Avenue Residential District
Once described as the “Miracle Mile,” the Park Place-Grand Avenue Residential District boasts 15 blocks of some of the most stately homes in Keokuk. Much of the area was once the private estate of famed Keokuk businessman, J.C. Hubinger from 1887 to 1908. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, the district has been lauded as “the best place to live in Keokuk” since the first homes were built there in 1856.
2 Park Place
Built in 1885, William Sinton owned the home and his mule-drawn wagons moved much of the freight from Keokuk’s wholesalers to the railroad depots.
404 Orleans Avenue
Ross Baker built this home in 1904. The Baker family, heirs to the patent medicine fortune, lived there.
414 Orleans Avenue
Built in 1860, this was once home to Samuel M Clark, editor of the Daily Gate City and three-term Congressman.
5 Park Place
Iram Sawyer was a partner of the Irwin Phillips Co. and built the house in 1885.
424 Orleans Avenue
John M. Bisbee, wholesale grocer, built the home in 1850.
507 Grand Avenue
The home was built in 1913 and has identical floor plans for the upstairs and downstairs apartments. Two sisters lived there with their husbands who were dentists in town.
11 Park Place
Built by Judge James C. Davis in 1898. The address is also known as 525 Grand Avenue. Davis served as Keokuk mayor and US Directory General of Railroads under President Calvin Coolidge.
610 Grand Avenue
Touted as the oldest home on the Avenue, AJ Sellman built this home in 1856.
611 Grand Avenue
E. Carroll Taber, lumberman and social leader, built the home in 1915.
627 Grand Avenue
James E. Johnson, a grocer, built the home in the 1880s. Judge William Logan, founder of State Central Bank, and his family lived here from the 1890s to 1940s.
633 Grand Avenue
John Daughterty built the home in 1856 but it was long-occupied by John N. Irwin and his family. Irwin was a five term mayor of Keokuk, an Iowa State Representative, territorial Governor of Idaho and Arizona, and U. S. Minister to Portugal.
The home was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and was included as a contributing property in the Park Place-Grand Avenue Residential District in 2002.
702 Grand Avenue
Oxel W. Sandburg, Superintendent of the Union Depot Station, built this home in 1918. The home was built of sandstone from the old river canal wall.
719 Grand Avenue
The home was built by Laura Covington of the Pond Family in 1923 and was called “Greenwillow.”
729 Grand Avenue
Built by Archibald & Edith Jenkins Logan in 1902, the home was later owned by Charles Streeter, who developed a chain of lumberyards. Later it was home to Gerard Huiskamp of Huiskamp Bros. Shoe Factory fame.
730 Grand Avenue
Built by Samuel T. Marshall, a lawyer, in 1856. The Maude Marshall Hassall award at Keokuk High School is named for his daughter.
801 Grand Avenue
Henry W. Huiskamp, owner of Huiskamp Brothers Shoe Factory, built the home in 1904.
901 Grand Avenue
James Huiskamp, Sr. built the home in 1914. The first story was built using canal stones from the river.
This home was built by A. C. Decker in 1907. Decker was the founder of the Keokuk Power Squadron, now known as the Keokuk Yacht Club. Decker was also the owner of Decker Manufacturing, which continues to operate today, after over 140 years in Keokuk.
925 Grand Avenue
Howard Hughes, Sr., inventor of the oil well drill, built the home in 1880. Hughes was the father of Howard Hughes Jr.
1001 Grand Avenue
Hugh W. Green, brother-in law, of JC Hubinger, built the home in 1910.
1031 Grand Avenue
Myrle Baker, who also built the Grand Theatre, built this home in 1920.
1107 Grand Avenue
Cephas Harrison built the home before 1923. Harrison’s father owned the Keokuk Box Co.
1111 Grand Avenue
John Dillon, co-founder of Keokuk Electro-Metals, built the home in 1925.
1201 Grand Avenue
Corydon Rich built the home prior to 1923 for his mother.
1229 Grand Avenue
The Corydon Rich Mansion was built by Rich and constructed on the J. C. Hubinger Mansion site in 1919. Rich was the owner of Purity Oats.
1307 Grand Avenue
Montgomery Meigs built the home prior to 1929. Meigs was the Corps of Engineers Manager and supervised the canal, drydock and original Lock 19. Meigs’ daughter, Cornelia, was a well-known children’s book author. The home was later expanded by G. LaMonte Weissenburger, owner of Keokuk-Electro Metals.
1321 Grand Avenue
Home built by Richard Hoerner, Sr.,owner of Hoerner Box Co., in 1950 and designed by Karl Kiedaisch, Sr.
1329 Grand Avenue
Home built by Edward Knox Johnstone, owner of Keokuk Savings Bank, in 1920.
Historic Keokuk Sites
Learn about the vital role Keokuk played during the Civil War and in the development of trade along the Mississippi River via water and rail by visiting sites like the Keokuk National Cemetery, the Keokuk Lock & Dam, and the Keokuk Union Depot.
Keokuk Lock and Dam
The Keokuk Lock and Dam No. 19, also known as Lock and Dam No. 19 Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The District itself covers over 1600 acres, 7 buildings, 12 structures and 1 object. Upon completion, the dam was the second-longest in the world next to the Aswan Low Dam on the Nile River.
George M. Verity Museum
The George M. Verity historic towboat was built in 1927 in Dubuque, Iowa. It is significant in that it is one of only three surviving steam-powered towboats to exist in the United States. The vessel, drydocked permanently in Victory Park, has been used as a river museum in Keokuk since 1962 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
Keokuk Union Depot
Built between 1890-91, the Romanesque Revival-style Keokuk Union Depot was designed by John Wellburn Root, of famed Chicago architecture firm Burnham & Root. The Depot served rail passengers until 1967 and in 2011 was conveyed to the City of Keokuk. Located at Water & Bank Streets, the depot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 and is currently undergoing restoration.
Located at 401 Main Street the Hotel Iowa was built between 1912-13. The seven-story building was designed by St. Louis architect Guy C. Mariner and is considered the most remarkable example of Chicago Commercial-style architecture in Keokuk. The Hotel Iowa was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
Keokuk YWCA Building
The Keokuk YWCA building, completed in 1913, is located at 425 Blondeau Street. The building, designed by Harry E Ratcliffe, has Art Deco tile ornamentation and is said to be “representative of the transitional architecture of the early 20th century.” The building, and its counterpart YMCA which sat across the street, served as a hub for community activity until the mid-1970s. The YWCA has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2004.
St. John’s Episcopal Church
St. John’s Episcopal Church is located at 208 N. Fourth Street and was built between 1884-88. It was designed by Boston architects Daniel Appleton and HM Stephenson and is a mix of Gothic Revival and Richardsonian Romanesque architectural styles. The building is notable for its outstanding stained glass windows made by even different companies including Mayer of Munich Glass Co., the Lamb Studio, and Tiffany and Co. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
Lee County Courthouse
The Lee County Courthouse is located at 25 N. Seventh. Completed in 1888, the building historically served as a Federal courthouse on the upper floors and post office on the first. It was designed by Mifflin E Bell, supervising architect of the US Treasury, and features ornate terracotta decorative panels and corner finials. Originally built five stories tall, the clock tower was deemed disproportionate to the building and two stories were later added bringing its current height to seven stories. The Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
All Saints Church
All Saints Church is located at 301 S. Ninth Street and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 as St. Peter’s Church, after the congregation that built it. The church was designed by Chicago architect William John Dellenberg and stands as an outstanding example of late Gothic Revival style architecture. The building was completed in 1885 at a total cost of $50,000. In 1904, the church commissioned a solid marble altar, the weight of which required the building’s foundation to be reinforced.
Keokuk National Cemetery
Located at 1701 J Street, the Keokuk National Cemetery was designated during the Civil War as a place to inter veterans who died at the five military hospitals in Keokuk and oversaw the burials of both Union and Confederate soldiers. The cemetery spans over 22 acres and as of 2021, had over 6,000 interments. The first National Cemetery west of the Mississippi and the only one in the State of Iowa, Keokuk National Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.