150 years and holding

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Ask fellow community members which building is the oldest in town, and more than likely they'll respond, "The Globe Loan building of course!"

According to owners Jason and Lisa Wertzbaugher, the building is more than 150 years old. Located on the corner of Third and Calhoun Street, the two have begun renovating the property after purchasing it last September.

"My husband and I were looking to purchase some rental property," said Lisa. "We figured, why not invest in our own backyard? We didn't realize it had such historic value at the time."

In fact, they chose the location because it was a stand-alone building with nice exterior bricking, something that would be easy for them to fix up.

It wasn't until later that Lisa heard about the age of building from the West Liberty Heritage Foundation. She did her own digging into its history and found that the building was built in 1867.

"It was used as a Masonic Temple, a post office, for dog grooming and it sold coal. There's actually a pile of coal still down in the basement," she said. It was also the site of the first creamery in 1870.

According to "100 Years of History," a compilation of historical stories published in 1938 by the West Liberty Historical Committee, the building was originally built for Elisha Schooley and was known as the Masonic Temple for many years.

"The first floor was used by Mr. Schooley as a furniture store, while his son James used the basement as a repair and cabinet shop. It was here the first caskets used in the community were made," according to the book.

The building has two parts, the eastern is the original location. The western part was added in 1892 by the Masonic Order, and in 1894 the post office leased the first floor and used it until 1937 according to "100 Years of History."

Currently the building has two apartments and two commercial properties, one of which is being used by the Globe Loan Company.

The couple was happy to learn about its age after purchasing it. According to Lisa it's an honor and a privilege to be a part of something so deeply embedded in West Liberty.

"We felt lucky after we learned about it, it's so historical," Lisa said. "We were glad we bought it while it was still sound enough to invest in," she said.

The Wertzbaughers have two children, one-year-old Ruby and two-year-old Bo. Jason works in commercial truck and trailer repair and welding while Lisa works for Johnson and Johnson.

Since purchasing the building they've added a new roof, redone many of the bathrooms and plumbing and cleaned it up a bit.

The next step is shipping in new windows for the structure, of which it has many. They had to special order them due to the age of the building.

"The window sizes aren't standard, they're large as opposed to today. The windows will look similar to what has always been there."

The aim of the entire renovation is to keep the building looking like it always has, cementing its place in history.

The entire project has been done by the owners, except for the use of some local contractors. They estimate they'll be done in mid to late summer. They also need to work on the foundation, gutters, painting, add new flooring and work on the ceiling.

They also plan to add an awning and repaint the store font, making the building look brand new.

Lisa is also part of the Muscatine Historic Preservation Commission, a group that works to preserve historical sites through out Muscatine County.

While her work for the Commission and on the 'Globe Loan' building are two separate parts of her life, she marvels at how she's been caught up in so many historical projects.

"I guess that's the benefit of living in a small town; it all comes together in the end," she said.
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