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Davenport home featured in New York Times

Davenport home featured in New York Times


A regular feature in the Real Estate section of the Sunday New York Times is a piece called "What You Get," comparing what kinds of homes one can buy for a certain amount of money in different parts of the country. The amount changes weekly.

In today's NY Times, the feature compares three homes in the mid to high $700,000s in Bristol, Rhode Island; Alexandria, Virginia; and Davenport, Iowa.

Yes, the Midwest comparison is a 1906 Tudor-style home on Mississippi Avenue, just up from East River Drive and the Mississippi River.

The brick and stone home was designed by the noted architecture firm of Temple Burrows and McLane for Rowland H. Harned, part of the Petersen Harned Von Maur department store that evolved into today's Von Maur.

In reading the Times story, it comes as no surprise that one gets way more for one's money in terms of size and features in Davenport than in either of the two other cities. Plus, you get to live in the Quad-Cities which, as the person who is selling the house says, "is like hitting the trifecta!"

The seller is Will Wolf, 61, formerly chief financial officer for Rock Island-based Barjan LLC.

Wolf might be better known, though, as the generous bicyclist who was going to ride cross-country last summer in an attempt to raise $100,000 for the Davenport Community School District's Creative Arts Academy. His ride was cut short on June 1 in Montana when the recumbent tricycle he was pedaling was struck from behind by a car reportedly traveling 70 mph.

Wolf was airlifted to a trauma center in Great Falls, where he spent four days, then was moved to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for surgery to repair his neck and left arm.

He continues to do physical therapy for significant nerve damage. "The journey continues with continuation of PT," he said. "The love and prayers of people have helped in my great progress."

But that digresses from what he'd like me to emphasize today which is that "the Quad-Cities is just a great place to live."

Will and his wife, Laura, came to the area around 2007 for his job, but they have since bought a home in Minneapolis.

Born on the East Coast and coming to the Quad-Cities from Texas, Wolf was expecting to buy a fairly standard, 2,000 square-foot home here, but when he walked into the Harned house, he changed his mind.

And, in a short period of time, he also fell in love with the community — both right around him and the larger Quad-Cities. He uses the trifecta analogy because of the culture, the hiking and biking opportunities and, yes, the moderate real estate prices.

He made a lot of friends in the immediate community, which is the Prospect Park Historic District, a turn of the 19th century residential development with a public park as a primary focus. The park still exists, with spectacular views of the river from Lock and Dam 15 on the west to the Interstate 74 bridge(s) on the east.

Old-timers told him there used to be 75 kids in the neighborhood, and during Wolf's time there, several young families moved into the grand, old homes.

"It's great to hear young kids playing," he said.

The New York Times article describes the house much as I would in one of my "home tour" stories — the huge foyer with its oak floor, the dining room with its wood trim, the living room with a mahogany fireplace, the staircase with stained and beveled glass windows and the remodeled kitchen with quartersawn oak cabinets and granite countertops.

The writer describes many aspects of the home as "new," and that is all Wolf's doing. Lots of re-dos. "It just continued every year," he said.

He started with the foyer floor, installing specially milled oak flooring that is 1.75-inches thick. He had it inlaid with strips of darker walnut to tie in with the dark woodwork used throughout the house.

He also created two bedroom suites on the second floor and totally redid the kitchen to the point of enlarging it so he could put in an island with seating.

He also redid the heating and air-conditioning system, installed all new windows and reconfigured the third floor, making a bedroom out of a billiards room, an office out of a sewing room and installing a bath with shower.

In a nod to the home's history, he left all the radiators in place, sometimes painting them to accentuate their features.

The grand house is not the first built on the property. When Harned bought the site, it contained an 11-room boarding house that had been in operation since 1870. It's interesting to think of that area as the site of a boarding house. The Harned family lived in the home for more than 50 years.

As for how the NYT happened to pick his home, Wolf said he understood that the writer was simply looking for historic homes in the $700,000-plus price range and searched online until she found three she liked.

The home is listed with Brad Gibson and Sara DeWulf, Mel Foster Co., 563-320-1775; A virtual tour has been posted to YouTube; just type in "Rowland H. Harned house."


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