Thursday, April 7, 2011

1142 E. Court Street

Grant Wood affectionately called his Iowa City home 1142, for its location at 1142 E. Court Street. Wood moved in to 1142 in 1935 and began teaching at the University of Iowa. During the next two years, Wood made the house his home by remodeling, just as he had in his studio at Turner Alley. He designed his own furniture, returned the building’s shutters to their proper place around the windows (He found them in the backyard, functioning collectively as a chicken coop.), and changed the landscaping. Wood’s studio, reminiscent of his Cedar Rapids days, was located in the carriage house.

Like the American Gothic House, 1142 is not open to the public. It has been preserved in a different way. Not stagnated by unchanging recreations of life from another time, not restricted by roped off doorways, not made stale with limited seasonal hours and a lack of human presence like many historic buildings. The house at 1142, like the American Gothic House, has continued to evolve and grow richer in its history over the years—because it’s being lived in.

The house has been occupied by lawyer and art collector James Hayes since he purchased it in 1975. Prior to buying 1142, Hayes rented the carriage house where Wood kept his studio. In 1978 the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and author Richard King published a book detailing the building’s history in 2008.

This video from the archives of the Daily Iowan depicts the outside of 1142 and gives a little history of the house and its architecture.

If this beautiful historic house is privately owned, how can one get beyond the picket fence? It just so happens that this year’s American Gothic House Center bus trip includes a rare tour of 1142!

It’s not too late to sign up! Click here for information on the day’s itinerary, meals, and ticket prices.

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