604 Gaines Restoration

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New life comes to Davenport gateway corridor

By Alma Gaul | Monday, June 23, 2008 |

In 1964, Maurice Woods and his wife, Lois, drove through Davenport from California on their way to the World’s Fair in New York City.

They were enthralled with the Mississippi River and the town’s old homes, and the couple told themselves that when they had the time and resources, they would come back.

In August 2006, they made good on their intentions. The Woodses purchased two homes in the city’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood and are to close soon on a third, becoming — serendipitously — part of a transformation on that portion of heavily traveled Gaines Street.

The street that spills off the Centennial Bridge and into the heart of Davenport has its share of dilapidated homes, especially in the Gold Coast area between 5th and 9th streets. But an abandoned house at 8th Street has been rebuilt by the nonprofit Gateway Redevelopment Group, and five other troubled properties are being fixed or will be soon.

Among them is 604 Gaines — a large blue, Queen Anne-style home that has been sitting empty, forlorn and highly visible for several years — which is being purchased by the Woodses.

“It’ll come back fast,” says Maurice Woods, who has spent a lifetime in construction.

In the 42 years since the couple first visited Davenport, they moved to Cripple Creek, Colo., where they made their living at general contracting and running several small businesses, including a general store, an antique emporium and an outfitters.

Buying and rehabbing homes is a way of life for them, he says. “I did it all my life and my father did it all his life. By the time I was 16, we had rebuilt and moved into 12 different houses in the Los Angeles area.”

The Woodses are selling their properties in Colorado, making Davenport their home. Woods, 76, says he can’t wait to get started on the Gaines Street house, hopefully next month.

“We’re going to put up scaffolding and use about 100 tubes of caulking,” he says. “I have a bad leg, but that doesn’t stop me. I’ve done hard labor all my life. I’m not about to quit now.”

And he can’t say enough good things about Davenport. He ticks off a list of features that amaze him: the “awesome” swing span of the Government Bridge, the locks and dam, the steamboats that tie up here and the Deere and Alcoa industrial complexes.

But most of all, he loves the people he has met. “Jack (Haberman)  has introduced us to the nicest group of people I have ever met in my life,” Woods says. “the nicest people on earth.”

Haberman is a founder of the Gateway Redevelopment Group, which has a goal of saving abandoned buildings in the neighborhood. He and others are glad to have the Woodses, too — glad for new enthusiasm and investment.

“We’re cleaning up the corridor,” Haberman says. “Gaines Street is starting to look up.”

Roy DeWitt, a neighborhood services specialist for the city, lauds the efforts.

“The work they (Gateway Redevelopment Group volunteers) are doing is creating a domino effect of interest in redevelopment in that neighborhood. The interest is spreading, and that is the important thing,” he adds.

“The neighborhood is more stable than it was even a year ago. Crime is under control. There is positive change.”

Alma Gaul can be contacted at (563) 383-2324 or agaul@qctimes.com.

Preservation inspiration

By Times Staff | Sunday, June 29, 2008 11:56 PM CDT |

Our community’s rich history seems apparent everywhere. Look in any of our metro Quad-City towns and find abundant evidence of 100-plus-year-old buildings, businesses and homes. So when change runs headlong into preservation, sparks sometimes fly. That leads to headlines on stories about historic preservation as a problem to be managed, or an obstacle to overcome.

Then along comes a Colorado couple who view our community’s history as an opportunity, not a conflict. Maurice and Lois Woods are purchasing three Gold Coast homes and intend to put their rehab experience and skills to work in the Quad-Cities. Davenport’s history captured the Woods’ interest years ago on a cross-country tour. Now in retirement, they’re leaving Colorado for a new adventure in our historic community.

Among the homes they’re rehabbing is 604 Gaines St. Anyone traveling on Gaines can’t miss this relic. It’s stately tower and curved windows overlooking the river offer a hint of the city’s past glory. The dilapidated siding and broken windows tell a sadder contemporary tale.

The Woods’ enthusiasm is shared by many Quad-Citians and the couple was fortunate to meet some of them in Davenport’s Gold Coast neighborhood, including Jack Haberman. “Jack has introduced us to the nicest group of people I have ever met in my life,” Maurice Woods told Times reporter Alma Gaul.

Haberman founded the Gateway Redevelopment Group, which is loaded with ardent preservationists who exhibit the joy of preservation. Their dreams of restoring Davenport’s history inspired the Woods to follow their own dream.

That’s how dreams can work.

We welcome the Woods to the Quad-Cities’ inspiring preservation community whose work assures a future for our celebrated past.


HOMEFRONT: Couple true to word on Gaines home

By Alma Gaul | Tuesday, September 2, 2008 1:46 PM CDT

If you’re headed to the Gold Coast for next weekend’s home tour, do not miss taking a look at the house on the northwest corner of 6th and Gaines.

Less than two months ago, this large home was sitting empty, forlorn and peeling … as it had for years.

Today it is painted a seven-color scheme of grays, pink, blue and cream and awaiting some 50-60 new or restored windows that should be in by the end of September.

The transformation is thanks to Maurice and Lois Woods, a Colorado couple who have been serendipitously smitten with Davenport’s Gold Coast to the point they have bought and are fixing up three homes in the area, and they are planning to make it their home.

The quick turnaround on the house at 604 Gaines has amazed a lot of people, Woods says, but he had no doubt it could be done.

All it required was hard work and know-how, and after a lifetime of rehabbing homes, Woods was up to both. The project took 21 days, including four to put up and take down the scaffolding, he says.

The work consisted of scraping away the peeling paint with carbide blades, replacing rotten boards with some 3,000 feet of new cedar, filling holes with some 150 tubes of caulk and applying 50-60 gallons of penetrating, oil-based primer before the finish colors.

“Oh, I still had to wing it,” Woods says. “But I had six guys (including Woods’ hero, Willie Henderson) who wanted to work, and I wanted to get the job done.”

Woods’ next jobs after the windows will be to rebuild the stone steps on the Gaines Street side of the house and the retaining wall in the yard. Then the couple can spend the winter fixing up the inside.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” he says.

For more incredible photos of their work, go to the Web site grgdavenport.org, click on “about us” and then click on “links.” Scroll to the bottom of the links page and click on “604 restoration programs.”

Also, watch this space.

Alma Gaul can be contacted at (563) 383-2324 or agaul@qctimes.com. Comment on this column at    qctimes.com.


Before the Woods

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Interior photos click here

July 28 to August 1, 2008 Click here

August 2 to August 8, 2008 Click here

 August 9, 2008 to August 12, 2008 Click here

August 9, 2008 to August 12, 2008 Click here

September 25, 2008 Click here

Miscellaneous click here