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Cedar Heights Neighborhood

Researched by Jennifer Reiter (2013)
Cedar Heights is a neighborhood in the northeast corner of Cedar Falls. It is an amazing location, known for its beautiful scenery, hilly landscapes, and grand old homes, an area rich with history and community. 

Before Cedar Heights was developed it was a large expanse of land owned by the Rownd Family. When Samuel Rownd first came to this area in the 1850s, he began accumulating land and eventually the Rownd brothers owned 7000 acres.[1] Originally the Rownd family attempted to develop the area as a neighborhood themselves. A map in Peter Melendy's, Historical Record of Cedar Falls (1893), shows the original plan for a residential area called "Bluff Park." The area consisted of around 500 lots for houses[2], however very few were sold and Bluff Park was never developed.[3]

In 1908, Luther H. Edwards saw the area’s potential and pitched his ideas to his wife’s cousin, William Galloway. Soon after, Galloway Investment Company was formed and began buying sections of land, beginning with a 250 acre option from the Rownd family. After later purchases from the Rownds and other landowners, Cedar Heights consisted of the land north of the current Rainbow Dr., south of the Cedar River, west of Parrish St., and east of Belle Ave[4]. Luther Edwards chose the name "Cedar Heights" because of the many cedar trees and the height of the bluffs.[5] Cedar Heights was incorporated in 1916 to avoid annexation by Cedar Falls, but almost twenty years later Cedar Heights became part of Cedar Falls anyway.[6]

Though a lot has changed in the century since Cedar Heights was established, driving down its winding roads you may not always realize it. As was common, the streets in Cedar Heights were originally dirt, or quite often mud, and did not begin to get paved until 1920.[7] Even today, many remain the narrow 9 foot width. This combined with the beautiful scenery and impressive homes can possibly give you a feel for what it may have been like to live in Cedar Heights 100 years ago.




James M. Rownd Family House(1900), 5634 University Ave.

Samuel Rownd Family House (1900), 5634 University Ave.

This house on the corner of University Ave and McClain was built by James M. Rownd,[8] in 1900.[9] This house is a great example of the Queen Anne style of Victorian architecture, decorated in the “painted lady” style. The home stayed in the Rownd family only eight years, until 1908 when the Galloway Investment Company began purchasing land to develop the area as Cedar Heights.[10]



Rownd School (1869), 5315 University Ave.

Site of Schoolhouse #2 (Rownd School), 5315 University Ave.

By 1869 a school was established on the Rownd family’s property.[11] This building was originally a one room school house, commonly called Rownd School, and labelled as #2 on the old Cedar Falls maps. It is unknown whether this is the original building from that time, or one built sometime later. It is believed there had been a wooden school house at this location before this brick one was built[12] in the folk style[13]. It functioned as a school until about 1914[14]. In 2001 an addition was placed on the rear of the building[15] and over the years it has been altered for other uses. It now houses a frozen yogurt shop. 



Luther H. Edwards House (1908), 2309 Grand Blvd.
Luther H. and Genevieve Edwards House (1908), 2309 Grand Blvd.

Luther Edwards saw the potential for Cedar Heights. He developed it with the financial backing of William Galloway’s investment company, which purchased the land for its development as a new community. Edwards named “Cedar Heights” to evoke the many cedar trees and location on the bluffs. He began to build this house almost immediately after acquiring land from the Rownd Family[16]. The house was built in the Folk Style[17]




William Galloway House
(1917), 2208 Grand Blvd.
William Galloway House (1917), 2208 Grand Blvd.

William Galloway, owner of Galloway Investment Company, built this house in 1917 as his plans for developing the area began to take shape.[17a] This 18 room[17b] house is built of local fieldstone and brick in the Craftsman style.[17c] Galloway lived here until his death in 1952.[17d] The house has recently changed hands and is being restored (2013).



Original Pillars to Galloway Fence (1917), Grand Blvd and Edwards Dr.
Main Columns at the entrance of the Galloway Estate (1917), Edwards Ave. and Grand Blvd.
A few parts of the original fieldstone fence[18] and
gates of the Galloway estate are still in place. The pillars at Edwards and Grand originally served as the gateway to the estate. Since newer homes were built on land that was originally a part of Galloway’s estate, the pillars now designate the entrance to Edwards Dr. from Brand Blvd. As the photos show, they remain intact and are in remarkably good shape considering they are nearly a century old. There were more, less substantial, pillars that went around the Galloway Estate to form the rest of the fence. A few of these pillars still stand, and were repurposed as the entrances of the drives of the newer homes on Edwards, north of Grand.

Mandalay Mansion (1922), 1603 Mandalay Dr.
Ariel View of the Mandalay Mansion, Before the Fire Photo Courtesy of Cedar Falls Historical Society
Edgar C. Litchfield built this house as a surprise for his wife. This magnificent home exhibited Mediterranean Revival architecture with Bedford stone walls topped with a red tile roof[19]. The 56 room mansion had many amenities that were almost unheard of in 1922: an automatic dishwasher, washing and drying machines, and a vacuum cleaning system. It also boasted a single lane bowling alley, gymnasium, pipe organ, and billiard room. After Litchfield lost everything in the Great Depression, the house was bought by the Russell Ferguson family in 1932. They originally turned it into the Mandalay Inn, a restaurant and nightclub, but then converted it into apartments three years later[20]. The main house became 12 apartments, while the carriage house housed six. On December 2, 1977, the house was partially destroyed by fire. It was purchased by the current owner the following year and has been undergoing restoration intermittently since then. The servants' quarters remain apartments while the main house is owner occupied[21].

General Store (1925), 1804 Grand Blvd.

Site of the General Store (1925), 1804 Grand Blvd.


Due to strict building regulations for Cedar Heights as set forth by Galloway there were not many businesses in the town. This building at the corner of Grand Blvd. and Park Ave. was originally a general store for the Cedar Heights area, also housing a popular soda fountain. It was conveniently located along the routes of the interurban and trolley. The building has since been converted into apartments[22].



Lumberyard (1917-1927), Rainbow Dr. and W Ridgewood Dr.
Lumberyard (1917), Rainbow Dr. and West Ridgewood Dr. Photo from Jack Gager's "Cedar Heights" (1993)



There was a lumberyard in Cedar Heights at the corner of Rainbow Dr. and W. Ridgewood Rd. With all of the building that was taking place in Cedar Heights, this was a much needed business when it opened in 1917. However, in 1927 the entire business succumbed to fire[23].




Cedar Heights School (ca. 1914), 2015 Rainbow Dr.
The First Cedar Heights Elementary School, 2015 Rainbow Dr. Photo from Jack Gager's "Cedar Heights" (1993)

The original Cedar Heights School was located on land donated by William Galloway. The year it first opened is unknown, but some interviews placed it as far back as 1914[24]. As the community grew, a larger school was necessary. Cedar Heights Presbyterian Church bought the original schoolhouse in 1922[25]. The church is still located at this location, but their current structure was built in 1954 having tore down the original schoolhouse.




Second Site of Cedar Heights School
(1922), 2417 Rainbow Dr.
The second Cedar Heights School (1922), 2417 Rainbow Dr. Photo from Jack Gager's "Cedar Heights" (1993)


The second Cedar Heights School was built in 1922. The school became a part of the Cedar Falls Community School District in 1935 when the town of Cedar Heights was annexed by Cedar Falls[26]. In 2003 a new school building was built on the same site[27]




The Cedar Falls and Cedar Heights Marriage Ceremony (September, 1935), Lookout Park, Park Dr. and Mandalay Dr.
Location of Marriage Ceremony for Cedar Falls and Cedar Heights (September, 1935), Park Dr. and Mandalay Dr.

Due to the continuing rise of property taxes, the residents of Cedar Heights decided to become part of Cedar Falls[28]. On August 6, 1935, a referendum was held in both cities, the merger passing with high numbers on both sides[29]. The union became official on September 1, 1935, when Cedar Heights officially became the 5th ward of Cedar Falls, increasing the city’s population by about 500. On September 11-13, 1935, a celebration took place at Lookout Park, then called Cedar Heights Park. In a "Marriage Ceremony," the two cities were "wed," with citizens standing in as bride and groom[30].



Hartman Reserve Nature Center (1938), Timber Dr. and Greenwood Ave.
Hartman Reserve Nature Center


In 1938, this park was originally set up as Camp Hartman Reserve. It was named after John C. Hartman, who purchased the original 56 acres,with The Waterloo Daily Courier and the YMCA, to serve as a camping area. In 1976, the Black Hawk County Conservation Board purchased the land for an environmental education center. Hartman Reserve Nature Center is now 300 acres, and offers many different activities throughout the year for visitors[31].





Siberius Saito House (1960), 1514 W. Ridgewood Rd.
House Designed by Siberius Saito (1960), 1514 W. Ridgewood Rd. Photo Courtesy of Daryl Andersen

Some of Cedar Heights’ more recent history includes a few homes designed by a Japanese American architect, Siberius Saito. Saito had been placed at the Tanforan Assembly Center near San Francisco in 1942, during World War II, but had not been interned[32]. He later designed many homes and buildings around the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area. The house on Ridgewood is a fine example of his work. It is modern contemporary with an Asian influence.[33]




Ruth Suckow/ Ferner Nuhn Home (1938), 2215 Grand Blvd.
Ruth Suckow Home (1938), 2215 Grand Blvd. Photo Courtesy of Daryl Andersen

The Cedar Heights area has been home to a number of well known writers. Ruth Suckow and her husband Ferner Nuhn lived on Grand Blvd. from 1937 to 1942. Many of Suckow’s books were set in Iowa. This house combines bungalow and Victorian style architecture.[34]



Robert James Waller House (1976), 3011 Winter Ridge Rd.
Robert James Waller House (1976), 3011 Winter Ridge Rd.


A famous author who lived in Cedar Heights was Robert James Waller. His last residence in Cedar Falls was here on Winter Ridge, a modern style home[35]. Waller owned this house from 1976 until 1996,[36] and lived here while writing his bestseller The Bridges of Madison County (1992). Waller worked as a professor at the University of Northern Iowa and from 1980 to 1986 served as dean of the College of Business.




All photos not credited were taken by Jennifer Reiter.

[1] Cedar Falls Historical Society Archives: Series Va (Cedar Falls Government; City Planning, Zoning, and Annexations; Cedar Heights): Box 2: Folder 4 (Cedar Heights).
[2] Melendy, Historical Record of Cedar Falls, 154-155.
[3] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 5.
[4] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 5-7.
[5] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 5.
[6] “Mayor McHugh Says Merger is a Forward Step,” Cedar Falls Daily Record, August 7, 1935, 1.
[7] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 14.
[8] Kristin J. Medanic, Abby M. Glanville and Heather J Nunnikhoven, Wapsie Valley Archaeology, Inc., “Intensive Level Architectural History Survey for the Iowa Highway 934/University Ave. Project Area, Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Black Hawk County Iowa.”
[9] Interview with Gary Kelley (owner), Cedar Falls, IA, November 12, 2013.
[10] Daryl Andersen, Cedar Falls Historical Preservation Commission's Historical and Architectural Inventory, Cedar Heights, #35.
[11] Cedar Falls Historical Society Archives, 1869 Cedar Falls Map.
[12] Kristin J. Medanic, Abby M. Glanville and Heather J Nunnikhoven, Wapsie Valley Archaeology, Inc., “Intensive Level Architectural History Survey for the Iowa Highway 934/University Ave. Project Area, Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Black Hawk County Iowa.”
[13]
Daryl Andersen, Cedar Falls Historical Preservation Commission's Historical and Architectural Inventory, Cedar Heights, , #36.
[14] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 3.
[15] Black Hawk County website, Real Estate Mapping, http://www.co.black-hawk.ia.us/ November, 2013.
[16] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 7.
[17]
Daryl Andersen, Cedar Falls Historical Preservation Commission's Historical and Architectural Inventory, Cedar Heights, , #13.
[17a] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 15.
[17b] CFHSA: Series Va (Cedar Falls Government; City Planning, Zoning, and Annexations; Cedar Heights): Box 2: Folder 4 (Cedar Heights).
[17c] Daryl Andersen, Cedar Heights Inventories, #10.
[17d] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 5.
[18]
Daryl Andersen, Cedar Falls Historical Preservation Commission's Historical and Architectural Inventory, Cedar Heights, , #10.
[19]
Daryl Andersen, Cedar Falls Historical Preservation Commission's Historical and Architectural Inventory, Cedar Heights, , #23.
[20] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 16-17.
[21] Interview with Al Brase (owner), Cedar Falls, IA, October 6, 2013.
[22] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 10.
[23] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 9-10.
[24] Interviews with Ross Galloway and Leland Corey by Jack Gager.
[25] Interview with Kim Latch (Cedar Heights Community Presbyterian Church Office Administrator), Cedar Falls, IA, November 12, 2013.
[26] Interview with Lori Wiley (Purchasing, Cedar Falls Community School District), Cedar Falls, IA, Novemeber 12, 2013.
[27] Cedar Heights Elementary School Website, Homepage, http://www.ch.cfschools.org/(November, 2013) .
[28] Jack Gager, Cedar Heights: A History of a Community and a Church (1990), 18-23.
[29] “Mayor McHugh Says Merger is Forward Step,” Cedar Falls Daily Record, August 7, 1935, 1.
[30] “Union of Cedar Heights and Cedar Falls Celebrated by Picnic and Unique Program,” Cedar Falls Daily Record, September 13, 1935, 1.
[31] Hartman Reserve Nature Center Website, About, http://www.hartmanreserve.org/ November, 2013.
[32] Rod Library Website, Special Collections, http://www.library.uni.edu/collections/special-collections/archives/siberius-y-saito-sketches-papers October, 2013.
[33]
Daryl Andersen, Cedar Falls Historical Preservation Commission's Historical and Architectural Inventory, Cedar Heights, #35
[34] CFHSA: Series III (Citizens), Box 14:Folder 2(Suckow-Nuhn).
[35]
Daryl Andersen, Cedar Falls Historical Preservation Commission's Historical and Architectural Inventory, Cedar Heights, #41.
[36] Interview with Coral (Black Hawk County Auditor’s Plat Room), Waterloo, IA, November 14, 2013.
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