WATERLOO — A record 2008 flood washed away most of the historic Sherwood Park neighborhood.
But a former resident who grew up playing along the banks of the Cedar River and in the surrounding woods is salvaging part of his family’s history the floodwaters left behind.
Joshua Jebe, whose family has deep roots in the neighborhood, recently won permission from the city to move two large stone pillars from his grandparents’ former homestead to his recently purchased acreage south of town.
“I just can’t believe they didn’t tear them down,” Jebe said. “I’m just interested in having the pillars live on at our new house instead of fading away into nature.”
Sherwood Park is an area between what is now the Hartman Reserve Nature Center and National Cattle Congress fairgrounds developed starting in 1907 as a place for riverside cabins and homes for factory workers along Westfield Avenue.
Wesley and Mary Jebe, Joshua’s grandparents, were among the close-knit community of homeowners when the neighborhood was annexed by the city of Waterloo in 1966.
Their original home was among the properties acquired and demolished in the late 1980s for construction of the Leo P. Rooff Expressway, or U.S. Highway 218. The foundation of that house is still visible under the U.S. 218 bridge across the Cedar.
The Jebes moved downstream to a lot at 160 Greenwood Ave. containing three houses. That property was surrounded by the six stone pillars and had a driveway, playhouse and fountain built with the same stones.
Joshua Jebe, who lived in one of the houses, remembers helping his grandfather repair one of the pillars after it was damaged by the 1993 flood.
“I lived off and on with my grandparents, helping with tasks like mowing and chores to keep me busy and out of my parents’ hair,” he said. “It was country living in town — fishing every day, a lot of BB gun action in the woods.”
Jebe and his wife, Jenette, moved out of Sherwood Park in 2003. His grandmother owned 22 lots in the neighborhood when she died in 2006.
The record 2008 flood heavily damaged the 60 remaining homes there, most of which were acquired and demolished by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and city. That included the three homes at 160 Greenwood.
Joshua and Jenette Jebe had steered clear of Sherwood Park until recently, when they decided to check out a new shelter built by the city at the intersection of Greenwood and Greenhill Road and show their old neighborhood to their two sons.
“We shied away from the area with hopes of keeping the memories of the country living and community we had down there alive,” he said.
After seeing the pillars intact during that visit, Jebe contacted the city about moving them to his new home in early 2018. Members of the City Council’s building and grounds committee voted Dec. 11 to approve his plan.
“I just can’t think of a more appropriate person to have those than the gentleman who grew up with them,” said Councilman Ron Welper.
While a few privately owned lots remain, Sherwood Park is now a public recreation area managed by Black Hawk County Conservation and city. The area, accessed by the Greenhill Road interchange on U.S. 218, includes a boat ramp, shelter and trails.