412 W 6th St,
Davenport, IA 52803
FOR SALE BY OWNER
4 beds 4 baths 6,238 sqft
EFFECTIVE 12/12/2014: Serious and qualified buyers only. Must show pre-approval letter or proof of funds prior to showing, no exceptions. Buyer to assume HAPPEN Grant currently on property. Home cannot be used for commercial use. Sold "as-is", no warranties expressed or implied. This is not a distressed property. Not habitable at this time. Will either have to be financed w/ a construction loan or cash. Lots of updates including Geo Thermal heating & air, plumbing, wiring, and restored clay tile roof shingles w/ new felt underneath. Seize the opportunity own the "Overview" Mansion.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THE HOME
You will not find anything quite like this home! Original details and quality built.
Overview definitely has seen better days.
One of the largest, finest, most view-commanding mansions in Davenport’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood is now barely visible from the street because the yard is overgrown with weeds and small trees.
Wind your way up the grassy brick driveway and you see that the windows are boarded over to protect them from vandals and break-ins.
But despite that, the place remains a palace — a 6,000-square-foot, Georgian-Colonial Revival-style structure made of brick with a signature “swan’s neck” pediment at the top of the red clay tile roof and four white pillars flanked by perfectly symmetrical, curved window bays.
Step inside and wonders of architecture past and present unfold. The light is dim because of the boarded windows, and it’s been years since any construction work happened here, but that doesn’t diminish the wonder.
Here, incongruously, is a $60,000 kitchen featuring Amish-made cherry cabinets, black granite countertops and a heated terrazzo floor installed by the current owner before changing circumstances led him to quit the project.
Here are 14 stained- and leaded-glass transom windows, still intact from when the home was built in the early 1900s by August Steffen Jr. and designed by noted Davenport architect Frederick George Claussen.
Here is a staircase six feet across that rises to a landing with two painted murals, then splits into two and continues rising, on either side, to a sitting area on the second floor with a panoramic view of the Quad-Cities.
You can see this home for yourself Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 6-7, when it will be one of five open for tours in a fundraiser sponsored by the Gold Coast & Hamburg Historic District Association.
About the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast/Hamburg District is the bluff area northwest of the downtown, generally defined as “5th to Nine, Ripley to Vine,” where successful German immigrants built their fine homes from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.
In the mid-1900s, many of the properties were subdivided into apartments, and decay and crime eventually set in. In the 1970s, new urban pioneers began restoring the homes, a trend that continues today with varying degrees of success.
Tour organizers readily acknowledge that their neighborhood has challenges, but they also are deeply in love with its architecture and history, and they are optimistic about its future.
“Our theme is ‘building the future while preserving the past,’ ” tour chairman Jeff Gomez said. “In 1990, only one of the five homes on the tour was occupied, and that was an eight-plex.” The rest were vacant, boarded-up or abandoned.
Today, all but Overview are occupied and the eight-plex is being returned to single-family use. The tour highlights homes that are finished or in the process and those that still need saving — namely Overview, he said.
Steffen was a dry goods merchant, director of Davenport Savings Bank and vice president of First National Bank; his Overview was perhaps the pinnacle of home building and wealth in the neighborhood.
After Steffen’s death in 1932, his sons continued to live in the home, dividing it exactly down the middle by building a floor-to-ceiling wall from the front vestibule, straight ahead up the grand staircase to the second floor.
Because the house is so symmetrical, the division left nearly equal rooms on either side with ornate, tiled fireplaces and enameled walls.
“There’s a neighborhood legend that they (the Steffens) divided the house because they didn’t like each other, but that’s not true,” said Marion Meginnis, a neighbor and member of the association.
The real story is that they both needed a place to live and the house was large enough to accommodate the two of them, she said.
The Steffens sold the house in the 1940s to Alex Berger, who moved his family into the east side and converted the west side into an up-down apartment, said Berger’s son, Paul, of Davenport.
Paul lived in the house until 1963 and remembers the massive built-in china hutch in the dining room as one of its striking features. He also recalls that the home still retained much of the original furniture that was custom-built for it.
His mother occupied the home until the late 1970s; it was sold around that time to a woman who gutted many of the rooms and then left, Berger said.
After that, the home had two buyers before it was acquired in late 2000 by Troy and Beverly Smith, who were very active in the neighborhood as well as the Village of East Davenport. Beverly died in 2006, and Troy now works in Ohio.