Named after a Sauk chief. He's bured in a local park - or so some say. Another notable local: "Keokuk was the longtime home of Orion Clemens, brother of Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Samuel's visits to his brother's home led him to write of the beauty of Keokuk and southeastern Iowa in Life on the Mississippi."

The population peaked at 16K in 1950; it's ten thousand souls now. As for downtown, the local paper said:

“Since July 1986, when Main Street Keokuk, Inc. began tracking numbers, the private sector has invested $21,592,898 in property acquisitions and $43,528,998 in property rehabilitation, restoration and new construction in downtown,” said MSKI Executive Director Joyce Glasscock. “A total of $65,121,896 – more than $2 million annually – has been spent by the private sector on property improvements during the last 30 years. Those dollars do not include equipment, HVAC, inventory, interior painting or routine interior maintenance.

“What those numbers tell us is that investor confidence in downtown remains strong.”

Let’s see how they’re doing.

The Pilot Grove Bank:

It’s a handsome structure, a landmark, a sign your town is sound as a dollar. No idea if it was something else and went bust, but given the age it’s possible.

The interior is interesting - the paintings on the wall have the style of the early 20th century with a modern, slightly surreal twist.

Then again, a town’s fortunes can be deduce from sights like this:

“Filing cabinets” is the only word I can make out.

Now that I think of it, you don’t often see the shingles on a Buckaroo Revival rehab coming off. They put those on for keeps.



“Sold,” so that’s good.

“What” would seem to matter less than “how much”:

The building was dull before they blinded the second floor. They probably figured it wouldn’t hurt.

I’m starting to sense a theme. Wish I didn't.


Lanham dealt in skids; Thomas handed casters.

And what are those? A skid could be something you place under something to move it, according to the dictionary. A caster is a wheeled device that lets you move something around.

Moving things from one place to another was apparently big business in Keokuk.

As was moving away.

Takes a lot of skids and casters to empty out a place.

Like an old man at a ceremony that recognizes him as the town's oldest citizen.

He's dressed in his best. It's old but neatly pressed.

“Investor confidence in downtown remains strong”

That's . . . a lot of doors.

Folks round these parts still talk about the day Godzilla passed through

Nice! The courthouse, and more.

At 7th and Blondeau Streets, the Lee County Court House and Post Office was built in 1889, an imposing and ornamental structure of brick, stone and terra cotta. Its interior was finished in white oak with cherry and walnut furnishings. The first floor was located the post office and postal departments. The second floor was the federal court room. The third floor were the chambers, private apartment for the judges, jurors' room and law library.

It seems to be guarded by two keen Iowans.

The building in the middle perplexes me. The middle story looks like it’s two stories tall. The third floor has no windows. What was it? Art Gallery? Meeting room?


I feel bad for the building on the right, which just got flayed.



There's more! But that's next week.