In 1938, Dr. William Egloff built a special house.
“It was ahead of its time by about 70 years,” says architectural historian, Will Page of Des Moines.
But now, the house needs a special buyer.
"It's gonna take someone with some financial resources and a sense of adventure," says Tricia Sandahl, Mason City's city planner.
They’ll need to value the original in both design and concept.
"As a city planner," Sandahl says, "we call this a 'snout house' because the garage looks like a snout on the house."
We see this all time now, but remember in 1938, cars were still very new.
“You can drive directly from the street into your garage," Page says, "and then walk from directly from the garage up into your kitchen. That was a very unusual idea then.”
This place was also at the forefront of another coming American obsession—closet space. There are closets with three doors to them, and there’s storage everywhere—even inside the closets.”
"Still has the original flooring," says Sandahl, "the original woodwork, a lot of the original wallpaper is still there, so you can go in and see how the house was conceived of by the Egloffs."
Dr. Egloff was fascinated with the sea and much of this place was built to look like a ship. There’s a boiler-shaped fireplace, porthole windows all around, a compass in the linoleum and built-ins everywhere you turn-cabinets, shelves, drawers and in this case, a kitchen with a refrigerator.
“If you want to live in an architectural gem that’s on the cutting edge," says Page, "this is a house that you need to look at.”
It can be yours for almost nothing. But of course, there’s a catch. The Egloff House—all 6,000 square feet of it—has to be moved. It borders the Winnebago River and when that spilled over its banks in 2008, the entire neighborhood was flooded. That could happen again so the city wants to reclaim the flood plain and FEMA will help.
"They'll pay 25% of the movers' costs up to $50,000 as long as the new owner intends to maintain the house's eligibility for the National Registry of Historic Places," Sandahl says.
The house can be moved, but it could cost around $500,000.
More incentives might help.
"Because it's eligible for the National Historic Register, it's also eligible for state historic tax credits, as long as they meet the requirements for that program," says Sandahl.
Those tax credits could be easier to grab, as moving costs could count as rehabilitation expenses.
Still, the city hasn’t received a single offer. Even the cautious optimism is wearing thin.
“We’re hoping that someone out there is interested in taking on this challenge—and it is a challenge,” says Page.
It’s guaranteed to be unlike any other house on the block, provided it finds a block…soon.
Mason City used flood recovery money to purchase the Egloff home from its former owners in 2010. The city says if a new buyer doesn't step forward with a proposal to relocate the building by Friday, June 28th, it will proceed with plans for demolition.