WATERLOO — The city celebrated the restoration of a historic building in the Walnut neighborhood district with the snip of a ribbon on Wednesday evening.

The Victorian house on East Third Street was built in 1894 and owned by Judge Franklin C. Platt. The house celebrated 125 years Wednesday with its infrastructural rebirth.

The renovation completed by JSA Development is one step toward the Waterloo housing coalition’s goal of creating better neighborhoods.

“This experience today is testimony that impossible things can be made possible if you work together,” said Mayor Quentin Hart.

Laura Hoy, president of Walnut Neighborhood Association, said community members met several years ago to discuss goals for the neighborhood and identified housing as the biggest challenge.

She said the conversations birthed a housing coalition with the vision of “holistic transformation of a neighborhood,” with the hopes for friendly, more diverse and mixed-income neighborhoods. The housing coalition includes JSA Development, Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity, the city and members of the Walnut Neighborhood Association.

“Any one of us individually can’t necessarily change the trajectory of the neighborhood, but the goal is collectively we might be able to,” said David Deeds from JSA.

The Rev. Judy Marshall, a nearby neighbor and part of the housing coalition, said “this is a long time coming,” and the renovation “brings back the glory of the neighborhood.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, members from the housing coalition, Grow Cedar Valley and neighbors milled around, enjoying refreshments while waiting for the doors to be unlocked.

Deeds welcomed the crowd with a brief history of the house and JSA’s involvement in the process, which they view as an extension of downtown Waterloo, their central work hub.

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“We’re caretakers; we’re stewards of these places,” Deeds said.

Hoy also spoke of the housing coalition’s efforts and goals for this project and talked about the history being salvaged.

In 1880, Platt moved to Waterloo and became 10th District judge in 1910. He was also on the City Council and sought to establish a city manager form of governing.

“This is historic preservation at its best,” Hoy said of the Platt house.

After introductions, members from Grow Cedar Valley made their way to the front steps, a purple ribbon was unwound and Jim Walsh, president of JSA, was handed a pair of scissors. As the ribbon fell in two, the crowd yelled “Judge Platt.”

The doors to the house were opened and visitors walked down the wood paneled hallways. The refurbished wood floors, doors, large windows and winding staircases have been brought back to life. Next door stands the Platt house’s dilapidated neighbor, built the same year as the Platt house and owned by Herbert Reed. Reed played part in the creation of the Waterloo Club for Business which became the Chamber of Commerce.

Deeds said JSA will draw from the Platt house experience when it begins its renovation of the Reed house.

Walsh said only time will tell the impact of this renovation to the neighborhood, but he hopes it creates more friendly neighborhoods.

“We thought we’d show that it can be done, so that others might be inspired,” Walsh said.

The house will be for rent as a duplex with three-bedroom units.

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