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Bohemian Historic District

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Cedar Rapids, IA, United States, Iowa, USA
Current Use: businesses
Vacancy: Occupied
Historic Significance: The Bohemian Commercial Historic District is associated with nearly 60 years of commercial development in Cedar Rapids' Bohemian South side from the 1880's throughout the 1930s. The development and redevelopment of the six blocks along the route of 3rd Street SW and 14th Avenue SE as they pass through this neighborhood and highlight the settlement pattern of multiple generations of Bohemian=American commercial and civic leaders. The Bohemian Commercial Historic District is significant under the theme "Architecture" as a representative collection of the commercial architectural styles and vernacular building forms that appeared in Cedar Rapids from the 1880s through the 1930s. Examples of the work of an important Cedar Rapids architect and one nationally significant architect have been identified to date. In addition to narrow-front commercial buildings and corner blocks, the district contains an important railroad corridor factory building, a fire station, a movie theater, two banks, several filing stations, and two important fraternal halls. Portions of the district were laid out in the 1870s at the south end of the district following the opening of the T.M. Sinclair and Company meat packing plant. The Sinclair packing plant was the earliest major industrial site established in downtown area. The company was founded by Irish Immigrants John and Thomas M. Sinclair who settled Cedar Rapids as a suitable community for their packing plant after considering a many other cities in Minnesota and Iowa. The Sinclair brothers acquired a 16-acre site about a mile downstream of the business district just outside of the city limits. The site was favored by proximity to both the route of the newly consolidated Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Northern Railroad and the Cedar River. Soon the company was slaughtering 2,500 hogs each day and employing 500 men. Urban amentities began appearing in the Bohemian Commercial Historic District in the 1880s and 1890s. Cedar Rapids' second streetcar line was installed along 3rd Street SE as far as 14th Avenue in 1882. Though largely for the convenience of packing plant workers,the line served to tie the South Side to the rest of the city. The first sewer in the neighborhood was installed along 2nd Street SE between 10th Avenue and 14th Avenue in 1887. In the 1890s, the CeskopSlovanska Podporujici Spolku Hall (C.S.P.S.). The substantial scale and monumental design of the building was testimony to the coming of age of the commercial as well as social institutions of the Bohemian community. The Cedar Rapids chapter of CSPS provided members support with a variety of social activities such as bazaars, plays, lectures, and dances for the entire Czech community. Two additions were completed in 1891. More businesses appeared such as barber shops, a furniture store, drug store, and a mortuary. By the 1920s, the Iowa Printing Co. moved into the area and published the Bohemian lauguage newspaper, Cedar Rapids Listy. The publication continued until WWII. After the war, the space was taken over by the Service Press Co, which continues, from this site in 2002. The development flourished; Wencil Martinek & Sons Hardware Store, Peter Hach Bottling Works, and Smid's Hardware were a few businesses that had success. During the prohibition, Hach Bottling turned to manufacturing soft drinks and incorporated a bowling alley into the former saloon. Once the prohibition ended, business returned as a tavern. By 1910, Iowa State Savings Bank was founded and business was good. In 1930, the bank closed with the area becoming Globe Store; a grocery and meat market.

The Bohemia Commercial Historic District was cited as a potential historic district in the Downtown and Industrial Corridors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa MPD that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

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