Historic Ottumwa House Included Among 2020 Most Endangered Properties

Daum House, 513 N. Court

OTTUMWA – Preservation Iowa has designated 9 properties across the state for the 2020 Most Endangered Properties List including the historic Daum House at 513 N Court in Ottumwa.



Preservation Iowa start the Most Endangered Property program in 1995 to educate Iowans about the special buildings and historic sites that are slowly and gradually slipping away.  In the past 25 years, Preservation Iowa has designated over 150 homes, churches, archeological sites, landscapes, commercial buildings and a variety of other properties. The Most Endangered Properties program helps to bring to the public’s attention the risks to a designated historic property and introduces owners of an endangered property to preservation advocacy and resources that can help preserve their historic property.  Additionally, there have been interest groups who have been able to use the designation as a mechanism to leverage other financial resources to restore and preserve properties.  For more information about the Most Endangered Program, check out Preservation Iowa’s website at www.preservationiowa.org or contact Preservation Iowa at info@preservationiowa.org.


The house at 513 N. Court was built in the early 1880s for W.R. Daum President of the Electric Street Railway Company.  The house is a contributing structure to the Court Hill Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. The home is a unique example of brick Italianate style with segmented arches of cream-colored brick, cream-colored brick quoins and decorative cornice brackets.



As the result of fire damage and neglect, the property is currently placarded by the Health Department as unfit for human habitation. The property has been placarded by the Health Department numerous times in the past and the current case was opened following a fire in October 2018. Even before the fire, the property had been poorly converted from a single-family residence into an 8-unit multi-family building. Features of the most recent deficiency list include: damaged floors, ceilings, walls and windows; smoke and fire damage; deficient plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems; and broken windows, doors, soffit, fascia and deficient structural elements.



As this property remains vacant, its condition continues to deteriorate and the owner has shown little interest in making repairs and maintaining the property. It has been a magnet for looters, squatters and vandals increasing the fire threat. Nuisance issues including tall grass and litter are persistent. In addition, in its present condition the property continues to have a negative catalytic effect on the rest of the historic district.



Supporters of the house and historic district are hopeful that a party interested in restoring the house can be found. If a buyer could be found, the City Planning Department would provide technical assistance and leverage funding opportunities to assist in a rehabilitation of the property.