Today’s WTH is this home located at the corner of College Avenue and 15th Street. It is not certain if the home is a single-family dwelling or if it contains apartments (or if it is actually some sort of business).

The photo above shows that there is a gaping hole in the front wall, haphazardly covered with plywood (more on why that hole is there in a minute), the transomed front door is boarded and forlorn looking, and windows are covered inside with paper.

However, giving it a closer look, the dormer has been painted, the upper story trim has been retouched, the architectural decorations are still intact, and the windows are still mostly original. The house has a lot of potential for a full restoration. Unfortunately, it has a long way to go…if it is broken into apartments, the landlord is undoubtedly cash-strapped to get a renovation completed. If it is a single-family home, it seems that other aspects of life absorb their income.

Historically, it was a single-family home, built sometime before 1887 (the earliest Sanborn map available). Being just a block north of the former location of Butler College, the lot may have been platted from Ovid Butler’s land. The early 1900s Blue Book and Polks City Directory list the Randalls as the residents of the home. By the 1950 Sanborn map, the home was shown as having been split into apartments.


Then by the early 1980s, this IHPC photo shows that a barbershop had been inserted into what was probably once the front parlor. The plywood of today covers the former shop’s window. By the way, the telephone booth on the corner is a nice touch–it is a historic sight in itself anymore.

One can see that some progress has been made in the past 30 years, but still the half-boarded up front makes this home a WTH.