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732 Gaines Street Davenport IA 52802


Jipp building wins preservation honors

Haberman of Davenport has led a huge effort by neighbors and others to restore the Jipp building on the corner of 8th and Gaines streets in Davenport. The Gateway Redevelopment Group won an award Thursday from Preservation Iowa for the community effort. (Photo by Ryan Stone/QUAD-CITY TIMES)


The old Jipp grocery store at the corner of 8th and Gaines streets in Davenport’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood was literally falling apart.

It had been boarded up for more than 20 years, the first floor had fallen into the basement, and there was no roof in the back. The city was poised to demolish it. Even ardent preservationists had written it off.

But a determined group of neighbors led by Jack Haberman was not ready to give up. 

Although severely deteriorated, the building was important to them because of its historical significance as an anchor for retail commerce in the neighborhood, and if it went away, there would be one more empty space in a neighborhood with too many empty spaces — on a very visible corner to boot.

In 2004, the neighbors formed a nonprofit organization called the Gateway Redevelopment Group to buy and restore the building, and over the past six years, they have secured more than $127,000 in grants and donations while rounding up more than 3,000 volunteer hours to rebuild the crumbling structure and turn it into an asset.

It is now an architectural salvage shop — set to open with regular hours sometime this year — that includes a history room/resource center and an income-producing caretaker apartment upstairs.

For their efforts, the group received a Preservation at Its Best-Community Effort award from Preservation Iowa during its annual meeting Thursday in Clinton.

As Ken Oestreich of the Davenport Historic Preservation Commission said, “If this building can be successfully renovated, virtually any building can.”

The Jipp had many challenges; the first was “getting people to believe we could do it — even the city,” Haberman said. “We were starting from nothing, and none of us had ever done anything like this before.”

He called several contractors about doing some work. Many refused to even come out, and those who did said, “ ‘No, there’s no way, it’s too far gone,’” he recalled. 

This is the second year in a row the Gateway group has received a top award from Preservation Iowa. Last year, the organization was cited for rescuing a home just up the street from the Jipp at 822 Gaines.

After two huge projects, Gateway members are not tackling another large project anytime soon. Instead, they are going to market the neighborhood and help other people restore their homes by advising them about financing opportunities such as historic tax credits and the City of Davenport’s HAPPEN program. 

“That’s where we think we can be helpful without killing ourselves,” Haberman said. “There were so many hours we put into the two projects.”

They also will get the salvage shop open and continue to make improvements, such as building a $20,000 barn-like storage shed in the back to hold overflow salvage and fix the sidewalk north of the building, which will provide handicapped accessibility.

The Riverboat Development Authority, the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Scott County Housing Council provided the bulk of the grant money for the Jipp, which is named for German immigrant Christian Jipp, who built the store in 1868.

The Gold Coast, also known as the Hamburg Historic District, is the area of Davenport generally bounded by 5th, 9th, Ripley and Vine streets.

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Gateway Redevelopment Group, Davenport, Iowa