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Supplement page to  29b.
Iowa Malleable Iron Company

This page was adapted from a webpage produced by
Cooper Norman's company, Prairie Architects, Inc.


Iowa Malleable Iron Company, Fairfield, Iowa

The Iowa Malleable Iron Company was built circa 1904 and was the first iron foundry located between Chicago and Denver. The complex of red brick buildings occupied approximately six acres in northern Fairfield.

Business reversals in the early 1990's led to abandonment of the property, which was later gutted by salvagers on behalf of creditors. It was also the site of an Environmental Protection Agency cleanup.

Inside a building Left to deteriorate over the past decade, the buildings in some areas are beginning to constitute a safety hazard to anyone who may wander into their midst. Other areas appear to remain sound. Efforts over the past several years to identify a capable developer to rescue the property have not been fruitful.

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors took ownership in 2003 to recover back taxes, and has subsequently transferred ownership to the non-profit Fairfield Economic Development Authority (FEDA).

FEDA subsequently sold one recent vintage metal building and a portion of the site to a Fairfield contractor, and has applied to the city of Fairfield for a demolition permit that would allow destruction of the remaining elements of the complex.

The property was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, when local citizens became concerned about the future of the property. As an historic property, applications for demolition must be reviewed by the Fairfield Historic Preservation Commission, which in turn advises the City Council of the appropriateness of the proposed action.

FEDA represents that partial finding for the cost of demolition has been promised by the Iowa Brownfield Fund. As there is no federal involvement in the funding of the proposed demolition, the National Historic Preservation Act provides no protections to the property and the State of Iowa does not require the equivalent of a Section 106 review of the proposed undertaking.

Fairfield Historic Preservation Commission concerns focused on 1) the possibility of saving selected structures through a program of partial demolition, 2) collecting and saving significant artifacts left in the buildings, particularly the painted wood pattern molds that number in the hundreds, 3) appropriate the HABS/HAER recordation of the facilities, and 4) production of an educational brochure to preserve the memory of this facility and the people that created it.

Iowa's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) advised that even the partial demolition of the historic district would result in loss of its National Register listing, but that remaining structures might be again nominated and listed based on their individual significance.

SHPO also advised that any future application for federal funding for the development of the property would be subject to review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation act, and that the subject demolition activities would likely be viewed at that time as Foreclosure of Counsel Comment and Pre-Emptive Demolition, placing federal development funding in jeopardy.

Pattern molds and other artifacts are strewn about the buildings, and the Fairfield Historic Preservation Commission recommended that FEDA organize the collection, cataloguing, and presentation of a representative sample for historic interpretive purposes.

Some of the buildings shown below were identified by the Fairfield Historic Preservation Commission as possible candidates for preservation, noting that once the more decrepit structures are removed the remaining structures may be more attractive for redevelopment.

This building was removed.   You are looking south on 9th Street.
Malleable Iron

South is to the left.   9th St runs left to right near the bottom of the photo.
Malleable Iron

On 9th St.   This building was removed.
Malleable Iron

This building remains. The above building was just to the left.
Malleable Iron

Looking from the North.
Malleable Iron

Looking from the North, and a bit westerly.
Malleable Iron

Pattern molds and other artifacts seen strewn about.
Malleable Iron

Close-up of pattern molds.
Malleable Iron

Why some of the buildings were unsafe.
Malleable Iron

One of the buildings contained a pit full of oil.
Malleable Iron

Another mess.
Malleable Iron

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