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Moffitt Houses

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c. 1931–1949, Howard F. Moffitt
  • Spec House (David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim)
  • Stoltz House (David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim)

Howard F. Moffitt entered into the contracting and real-estate business in the early 1930s. His interest and obvious delight was to build tiny single-family houses as wonderful little Hansel and Gretel cottages. The enlarged dollhouse forms of Moffitt's cottages represent a building type that came to the fore across the country in the decades of the 1920s and on into the depression years of the 1930s. The largest contingent of these fairy-tale dwellings is found in California, especially in and around Carmel and Berkeley. Moffitt's versions of this type can easily hold their own with examples from California and elsewhere. In the decades after World War II these dollhouselike Moffitt cottages were much out of fashion, but now they are much admired and sought after.

These cottages are scattered around Iowa City, apparently wherever Moffitt could locate and purchase property, and were built on speculation. In and around Friendly Avenue and Pickard Street there are so many of his houses that the neighborhood has become known as “Moffitt Hollow.” The storybook quality of these designs was created not only by their small size, but in the way Moffitt played with roofs, bringing them almost down to the ground, and interrupting them with wall dormers and bays. He had a fondness for playing off normally scaled elements—a door, a bay, a large chimney—against the small scale of the building and the other details. Although all of these houses are charming, they are nonetheless functionally designed, with attached garages, good internal circulation, and main living spaces that often open out onto garden terraces.

These houses can be found at the following addresses (their dates are given in parentheses; otherwise unidentifiable houses are labeled as “spec houses”): spec house (1941), 1322 Muscatine Avenue; spec house (1942), 1324 Muscatine Avenue; spec house (1940), 1326 Muscatine Avenue; spec house (1940), 1328 Muscatine Avenue; spec house (1939), 1330 Muscatine Avenue; Stoltz house (1943), 1215 Pickard Street; Pontius house (1941), 1217 Pickard Street; spec house (1934), 1213 Yewell Street; spec house (1937), 1215 Yewell Street; spec house (1937), 1217 Yewell Street; Miller house (1940), 1326 Yewell Street; Anderson house (1943), 1202 Friendly Avenue; Weatherly house (1940), 1217 Friendly Avenue; Engle house (1941), 1218 Friendly Avenue; Gray house (1932), 837 Kirkwood Avenue; spec house (1938), 431 Rundell Street.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Moffitt Houses", [Iowa City, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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