The Springer House
(This story is based on a news article printed in the Muscatine Journal in October 1997)
COLUMBUS CITY, Iowa – One of the most
historic homes in Louisa County has been destroyed.
The Francis Springer House, listed on
the National Register of Historic Places since 1983, was burned to the
ground earlier this month by its owner, Forrest Brown.
According to state officials there is no law to prevent a property owner from altering or demolishing historic building, unless federal financial assistance has been used to restore the structure. Even then, the owner is only committed to preserve for a reasonable and limited number of years.
Brown said the roof was coming off.
“Once the roof goes, a building won’t last long,” Brown said.
Brown said he had hoped members of the Springer family would buy the house and restore it, but it never happened.
Descendants of Springer, who had hoped to purchase and renovate the house, expressed dismay when they learned the house had been burned down..
“He threatened to tear it down,” said Martha McCullough from her home in Santa Ana, Calif. “We didn’t think he’d really do it.”
McCullough said that on a recent visit she and her husband had architects look at the house and they estimated it would take $500,000 to restore the house to hits original splendor.
Local historians said they had also tried to save the house and tried to get funding to buy the house and restore it.
The house, an Italianate brick mansion, became Springer’s home in 1860, on his 800-acre farm south of Columbus City.
Springer was one of the most prominent men in Louisa County. He came here in 1838 when he became a member of the Bar.
In 1840 and again in 1842 he was elected to the Territorial Senate. In 1846, Springer was elected to the State Senate and was later appointed special agent of the Post Office Department in 1849.
From 1851 to 1853, he served as Registrar of the U.S. Land Patent Office in Fairfield. In 1854, he was elected prosecuting attorney of Louisa County and the following year he was elected county judge.
In 1856, he served as president of the state constitutional convention. In 1858, he was elected Judge of the District Court. In 1869, Springer accepted the appointment of Internal Revenue Collector.
Springer died in 1898.
Brown sold the ground including five acres to his daughter and her husband Sarah and Greg Griffin who built a new home on the location.