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West Liberty

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West Liberty contains one of Iowa's several libraries designed by the Chicago firm of Patton and Miller (located at the northeast corner of East Fourth Street and North Spencer Street). This brick-clad, tile-roofed Carnegie Library building was constructed for the sum of $7,500. As such it is relatively simple in overall design and detail. Its most interesting feature is the entrance doorway with side quoining and a lunette window separated from the door below by a Prairie-style band that terminates in squares. Above the door, the entrance gable has a parapet and contains a narrow window with cross-banded stone carried across its center.

Another of the community's public buildings is the Rock Island Depot (c. 1900), at the end of West Fourth and Elm streets. The brick station displays a playful pattern of varied roofs; the main block is covered by a cross-gabled roof and is accompanied by lower wings with hipped roofs. The roofs of these wings continue over the main block to provide a sheltered porch on the platform side of the building. The station is slightly, but not strongly, Romanesque in imagery.

Three miles west of West Liberty, on the north side of US 6, is a stagecoach stop (1842–1843). The building represents a characteristic “transplant” from the East Coast; according to tradition it was modeled after a house on Long Island. Its form is that of a clapboard-sheathed side-hall dwelling, two and a half stories high. It is a relatively plain structure, except for its handsome recessed entrance with side lights and transom. The original owner of the inn was Egbert T. Smith, who was its architect and builder.

A little closer to town (2.5 miles west on US 6) is the delightfully odd Walter I. Smith house (1911). The house itself is a conventional two-story, somewhat Colonial Revival box; but what “makes” the building are two tall conical roofs, one of which covers part of the right porch, the other, to the left, the porte-cochère. These roofs and some other parts of the house were salvaged from an earlier dwelling.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim

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