Iowa regents approve property transfer to allow relocation of historic Iowa City home

The state Board of Regents approved a property transfer from the City of Iowa City to the University of Iowa, for land that will become the new location of the Sanxay-Gilmore House.


Jake Maish

The Sanxay-Gilmore House on is seen on June 15 on Market Street in Iowa City.

Kelsey Harrell, Managing Digital Editor

The state Board of Regents approved a property transfer of 0.2 acres of land from the City of Iowa City to the University of Iowa, which will become the new location for the Sanxay-Gilmore House.

The City of Iowa City would transfer ownership of the 0.2 acres of land, which is currently a metered-parking lot, to the UI at no cost in trade for the UI relocating the home to the new location and renovating the Sanxay-Gilmore House, a historic home built in the mid-1800s and located at 109 E. Market St.

The UI currently owns the home, which is the oldest-known house in Iowa City and is located on a piece of property across the street from the Pappajohn Business Building. The university plans to develop that area over time, Rod Lehnertz, UI senior vice president of Finance and Operations, told the regents in a virtual meeting on Wednesday.

The UI is partnering with the Friends of Historic Preservation and Iowa City to relocate and renovate the home, Lehnertz said. The university will relocate the home and renovate the building through gifts to the university, to ultimately house the Nonfiction Writing Program.

“This would continue to advance the idea … of homes, historic structures that host important and frankly nationally and internationally recognized, writing programs in what we affectionately call the writing neighborhood,” Lehnertz said.

The Dey House, which houses the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the Shambaugh House, which houses the UI’s International Writing Program, are both located off Clinton Street, not far from the Sanxay-Gilmore House.

The house has not officially been deemed historic, Lehnertz said, however it’s one of the oldest buildings in Iowa City and garners historic consideration.

The house is historic-eligible, but no one has gone through the process to register it as a historic building, said David Kieft, UI business manager in the Department of Finance and Operations. Kleft said moving the home won’t change its historic nature.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, the UI will spend about $1.23 million relocating and renovating the home. Broken down, these costs would include:

  • $241,800 for relocation
  • $311,328 for foundation, landscaping, and mothballing at the new site
  • $20,000 for old site abandonment
  • $662,400 for full rehabilitation

“Like the long list of partnerships we’ve had with the City of Iowa City, it gives us a change to have a win — in this case a win, win, win situation,” Lehnertz said. “We really do appreciate the chance to save some more history. We save a lot of history and represent a lot of history for both the community and state on our campus — this will be another example of that.”