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Peter Melendy's First House


Cedar Falls
1107 Washington Street

Peter Melendy wrote of Cedar Falls that no more beautiful site for a city can be found in the West. As a businessman, railroad promoter, mayor and friend of education, Melendy did much to fulfill that vision of his adopted community.

Melendy was instrumental in establishing the Iowa Soldiers' Orphans Home at Cedar Falls in 1869. In 1876, when the Home was no longer needed, Melendy was a prime mover in the successful effort to convert the building to use as the Iowa State Normal School, now the University of Northern Iowa. He also played a role in the founding of Iowa State University. ,

Melendy was mayor of Cedar Falls from 1895 to 1901. He was also an important local historian and author of Record of Cedar Falls, the Garden City of Iowa, Fifty Years 1843-1893.

Melendy built this house in the mid-1870s on the site of a house that he built in 1859. Melendy's first wife was buried on the grounds of the house.

The house displays an Italianate, or bracketed, design and retains much of its original porch detail, though the gingerbread typical of the period is missing. Inside, a mahogany railing and newel post guard a twisting stairway. The house had five fireplaces for the two living rooms, two bedrooms and one dining room. The cast iron fireplaces in the living rooms were designed to resemble black marble.

Melendy lived in the house only a brief time before selling it to I. D. Gilkey. Still later, Roger Leavitt was another prominent owner of this house. Melendy's second house in Cedar Falls, built in 1886, is located at 822 Washington Street.

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Last updated Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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