Dearborn Street History for Garden Walk


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Adapted from “A Dearborn Street History,” The Long View, June 2007,
Longfellow Neighborhood Association, by Tim Weitzel for the 2997 Longfellow Neighborhood Garden Walkabout. The Longfellow Neighborhood has a long history and a tradition of telling that history, describing important events, persons, architecture and gardens.

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Dearborn Street History for Garden Walk

  1. 1. Dearborn Street History The Dearborn Street area was once farmland owned by Leroy and Alice Rundell. Most of areabetween Dearborn and Grant Street to the west and north of the hill in the 700 block was a lowbasin that was prone to flooding. Dearborn Street was mapped in 1908 when the Rundellsubdivision was registered with the County. The meandering channel of Ralston Creek raneastward across what is now the 700 block of Dearborn Street, and then back to the west near thelocation of Center Avenue. Seasonal and flash floods slowed development in the Rundellsubdivision. Several efforts were made to control the floods from around 1910 into the 1930s. Atsome point, the excavated material from the newly channeled creek bed was used to fill part of theold channel along Dearborn Street and other locations. From north to south these are the principal locations of historic interest. 1630 MuscatineAvenue was built as a Neighborhood grocery store that was most recently known as WattsGrocery. These stores began to open in neighborhoods after World War I and offered fresh cutmeat, produce, and hand-packed ice cream and sundries. Gus Pusateri ran a well-known fresh fruitstore on S. Clinton St. He and his wife lived at 622 Dearborn Street. That house, the one to thenorth, and three to the east are all Moffitt Houses. The 700 block of Dearborn Street also holdsmany Moffitt Houses. Moffitt was concerned about issues such as affordable housing, reuse ofmaterials, and energy conservation. 1530 Sheridan Avenue is the former home of Della Grizel, alife-long resident and author of a short, unpublished reminiscence of life in the LongfellowNeighborhood. Grizel founded the Rundell Women’s Association, which was active into the1980s. Rundell Park baseball stadium was formerly located along both sides of Dearbornbetween Jackson Ave. and Sheridan Ave. The Stadium included a large covered grandstand and atall wooden outfield fence. Local folks played at a ball diamond there before then. Players onstrike from professional teams played for the Iowa City Gold Sox in 1912. The stadium was soontaken down to allow homes to be built on this section of high ground along Dearborn as theflooding of Ralston Creek was slowly brought under control. 903 Dearborn Street is the locationof the King-Palmer-Littrell house. The House built by Irving King around 1920. He was anEnglish professor who raised chickens and ran a hobby farm at the south end of Dearborn Street.The house is a good example of a Dutch Colonial Revival house, and it continues to utilize one ofthe color schemes popular in the first third of the Twentieth Century. Take note of the stately oldtulip tree in the front lawn. To the west at 1515 Jackson Avenue, and extending to the creek inboth directions, was the King-Palmer-Littrell Hatchery. Local hatcheries provided fresh eggs andchickens for sale in town and across the Midwest. Lloyd Palmer, who built the Palmer Houses on7th Avenue, bought King’s home and small hatchery from King’s widow around 1940. Ralph D.Littrell, an ISU graduate and poet, bought the house and hatchery in 1946, greatly expanding it.Before then, the Littrell family had owned a white bungalow in the 900 block of Dearborn Street.The Littrell hatchery closed around 1986. More about the Hatchery and Rundell Park baseballstadium can be read at the historic marker on Jackson Avenue. Adapted from “A Dearborn Street History,” The Long View, June 2007, Longfellow Neighborhood Association, by Tim Weitzel.