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[photo] Princess Cafe sign
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Current view of Sentinel Block
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

The Sentinel Block (1905) is a good example of a Romantic Revival style commercial building. It also illustrates the important position held by community newspapers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Iowa Falls Sentinel was born as the Eldora Sentinel in 1857. When Marcus Woodruff relocated the newspaper to Iowa Falls in 1865, he had an eye on the future. Business in Iowa Falls was brisk, the population was growing, and the promise of continued growth was strong. The year after Woodruff moved his paper, the town received rail transportation, a strong assurance to businessmen that growth would follow in Iowa Falls. In 1883 the Iowa Falls Sentinel received competition from the Hardin County Citizen, which began the battle for supremacy among the editors of the two local newspapers. The high point in the newspapers' competition was 1904-1905, when S. B. Stonebrook took charge and decided to erect a new office for the paper, which became the Sentinel Block. The town supported two newspapers until 1927 when Ira A. Nichols, owner of the competition, purchased the Sentinel and silenced its presses.

Historic view of Sentinel Block
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

The Sentinel Block represents a departure from earlier commercial buildings in Iowa Falls. These had almost all been Italianate in design with decorative hoodmolds and heavy metal cornices. With the new century came a new interest in a simpler form. The Sentinel Block represents an early expression of this. The hoodmolds have been replaced by rectilinear brick panels, and the cornice consists entirely of brick patterning with a very plain stone cap. The crenellated parapet on the corner oriel window bay may have been a reaction to the Queen Anne influence of the 1890s. The main level has undergone a substantial rehabilitation and is now occupied by the investment firm of Edward Jones, Inc.

The building is located at 702 Washington Ave., in Iowa Falls. The first floor and basement of the Sentinel Block Building are occupied by businesses and are open to the public during normal business hours.

[graphic] Collage of different scenes from Hardin County
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