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Woman Renovates 130-Year-Old House in Newbo Neighborhood

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids woman has taken it upon herself to restore a home that was built a little more than a decade after the Civil War.

The 1880s home has been an eyesore for years, and the city had it on a list for demolition.

It’s located at 1301 Third Street Southeast in the Newbo neighborhood. Eventually, the top floor will be an apartment and the main floor will be the owner’s architectural salvage shop.

Old pipes, old paint and cob webs are everywhere you look. Most people wouldn’t pay a dime to own this house.

“It just sort of, it spoke to me,” said Beth DeBoom.

DeBoom paid thousands.

“It’s worth it. We paid $3,000. The city required that we pay the value of the land. So, we did that, and we will put a lot of money into it,” DeBoom said.

She’s getting a lot of help with a to-do list that just keeps growing.

“You know what it’s like is — we are at work here and people pull up in their car and say you know we come over on our coffee break just so we can sit here and look at this house,” said Roger Gwinnup.

The house is filled with about 130 years of stories. While the old wood frame on the first floor doesn’t tell much, the second floor is much different.

It’s a picture frozen in time.

“We have a lot of fixing up to do here, but this is how someone left it,” DeBoom said.

Beth said the family that lived on the second floor was quickly evacuated when floodwaters inundated the home.

The sheets are still on the bed and toys are still scattered about.

“The paint is peeling and it has been probably a pretty warm time capsule,” DeBoom said.

From top to bottom there’s a lot of love going into this house, a love that’s clearly displayed out front where there’s a painted heart.

It just goes to show, there’s no price tag to high when a dream is within reach.

“The dream would be that I’ve always been a preservationist at heart. So, I have always wanted to save a house that someone said could not be saved. I wanted to be able to take down a demolition notice from a door and say ‘no you can’t have this one’,” DeBoom said.

DeBoom is also the president of Save CR Heritage, which is a group that strives to save historic buildings.

Often, the members put those painted hearts onto their projects.

To go with the heart theme, DeBoom is hoping to finish restoring the house to its original appearance by Valentine’s Day.

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