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Cross Section (1885)

Iowa didn’t license the practice of architecture until the late 1920s, which means that the post-Civil War period of professionalization was regulated solely by the marketplace. Many called themselves “architect” but only a handful provided services we would recognize today. Some succeeded; others moved on to fresh pickins.

Those states and territories bordering the 100th Prime Meridian (a widely accepted boundary between the tall grass prairies of the Midwest and the short grass prairies of the Great Plains) settled rapidly after 1865, thanks to the Morrill Act, and publishers appeared almost overnight to tell us who was here and how to find one another. The Iowa State Gazetteer and Business Directory of 1884-1885 listed businesses by both city and type; its statewide listing of “Architects and Superintendents” appears on pages 1040 and 1043 and offers a cross section of their distribution:

  • BOONE—1
  • DUNHAM—2
  • CALLIOPE—1
  • CARROLL—1
  • CEDAR RAPIDS—1
  • CENTRALIA—1
  • CLARINDA—1
  • CLINTON—1
  • COUNCIL BLUFFS—2
  • CRESTON—1
  • DAVENPORT—3
  • DES MOINES—10
  • DUBUQUE—5
  • FORT DODGE—1
  • GREENE—2
  • HARLAN—1
  • KEOKUK—1
  • McGREGOR—1
  • MARSHALLTOWN—3
  • OTTUMWA—3
  • SIOUX CITY—2
  • UNIONBURGH—1
  • VILLISCA—1

Ia_1895

Give me a day or two to add some population figures to these cities and we’ll have a relatively firm basis for understanding how Agincourt satisfied its need for architectural services.


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