Coe College receives award for preservation of Whipple Fire House

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2015-05-06 10:20:03 - General

Whipple Fire House
Whipple Fire House

Coe College has received an award from the Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission for the preservation of Whipple Fire House. The honor was presented as part of the organization's Historic Preservation Showcase Awards ceremony, held at CSPS on May 2.

During the Historic Preservation Showcase Awards, 10 individuals and organizations from the Cedar Rapids community were honored for making significant restorations or preservation efforts to their historic properties. Qualifying properties were at least 50 years old or designated as historically significant. Coe received the award of excellence for the adaptive re-use, large project category, for the repurposing of the Whipple Fire House.

The former Fire Station #3 at 1424 B Avenue NE was built in 1925, and it was the last pre-World War II fire station to be used by the Cedar Rapids Fire Department. After being in service for 88 years, the facility was closed when the new Central Fire Station on First Avenue was opened in the fall of 2013. Coe acquired the former fire station in early 2014. The college renovated and expanded the building into a new residence hall, which was opened in August of last year. Although the interior of the facility was remodeled, the historic exterior look of the fire house was retained.

"The Coe community is pleased to receive this recognition from the Cedar Rapids Historical Preservation Commission," said Coe President David McInally. "By working with the city and thanks to our generous benefactors, we were able to create a 'win-win' situation that met the college's need for additional student housing, while at the same time preserving this neighborhood gem."

Additional background on Whipple Fire House

Whipple Fire House is named in honor of longtime Coe trustee and supporter William Whipple, a 1935 alumnus of the college. Mr. Whipple was also a longtime friend of the Cedar Rapids Fire Department and a well-known, active community leader. The Cedar Rapids native passed away in 2010 at the age of 96. Upon the untimely death of his father, he successfully took over the family insurance business, retiring in 1974 as chairman of Frank B. Hall of Iowa. Mr. Whipple then became the first executive director of the Hall-Perrine Foundation and later was named the organization's chairman. A true gentleman of high integrity and character, he believed in giving back to Coe and many other organizations in Cedar Rapids.

Originally, the college planned to renovate the existing space for 26 students, using the second-floor bedrooms used by the firefighters and by creating additional rooms in the former truck bays. After careful evaluation, college leaders developed a cost-effective way to add to the second floor of the fire house, thereby creating beds for a total of 37 students.

The Whipple Fire House is not only a new physical facility for the college, but it also houses honor students as part of the college's first living and learning community. Along with student rooms, the Fire House includes a common space and kitchen, which provides ideal space for student interaction.

Coe's bid of $290,000 for the property was accepted by the city of Cedar Rapids, and the college invested approximately $585,000 in the facility for remodeling, the addition and furnishings. The project was funded in part by a generous grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation. The fire house sits in the middle of the college's campus expansion project, which includes the two and one-half block area between 14th Street NE and 15th Street NE along A, B and C Avenues NE. Since early 2006, Coe has acquired approximately 80 percent of the properties in this area.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.