National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Washington Downtown Historic District
Reference Number 13000297
State Iowa
County Washington
Town Washington
Street Address 11 blocks of Iowa Ave, Marion Ave, Washington St, Main St, and 2nd St around square
Multiple Property Submission Name Iowa's Main Street Commercial Architecture
Status Listed 5/22/2013
Areas of Significance Commerce, Architecture
Link to full file
The Washington Downtown Historic District is locally significant under Criterion A for its key role in the commercial history and development of Washington, Iowa, and locally significant under Criterion C for its excellent collection of local commercial architecture. The Washington Downtown Historic District meets the registration requirements of the Iowa's Main Street Commercial Architecture National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Document, completed in July 2002. The district is significant under Criterion A as defined for Property Type I (commercial districts). This district encompasses the historic, as well as current, commercial core of the community, centered on the public square. Commercial development and significance spans from the growth of Washington as the county seat in the 1840s, through second generation development with two-story and taller brick commercial buildings in the second half of the 19th century, through remodeling efforts to modernize the downtown in the early 20t h century and again after World War II , and through new specialized construction in the early and middle of the 20 th century. A number of specialized commercial buildings are located in the historic district, such as banks and gas stations, as well as a number of specialized buildings with civic/public functions and religious functions. The district has 87 contributing (70%) and 36 non-contributing resources (30%). The Washington Downtown Historic District continues to serve as the center of commercial, public, and governmental activities in Washington. Additionally, the district is significant under Criteria A and C as a collection of historic commercial buildings with 79 properties meeting the registration requirements for contributing buildings under Property Type Ill (second generation properties and reconstructing Main Street), Property Type IV (specialized buildings, structures, and objects), and Property Type V (remodeling Main Street). The district as a whole includes architectural examples within each of these property types. The majority of the buildings around the square represent second generation two-story brick buildings, with ten buildings reaching heights taller than two stories. A number of buildings reflect remodeling efforts in the first decades of the 20th century and then in the post-World War II period from 1945 to 1966, including modernized storefronts as well as fac;ades. Additional specialized commercial buildings are located on the blocks immediately adjacent to the square, with a shift to more one story construction. Finally, other specialized buildings found in the district include the courthouse , county jail and sheriff's residence, library, fraternal/social halls, post office, and churches. Collectively, the buildings represent historic commercial architecture combined with upper level offices or residences, updated with changing trends in the 20th century. The buildings in the Washington Downtown Historic District represent the largest and most significant collection and concentration of commercial buildings in Washington. The period of significance for the Washington Downtown Historic District spans from 1839 to 1966, from the significant platting of the community around the public square and construction of the earliest extant buildings in the 1850s to the conclusion of building activities and remodeling efforts that continued from the 1950s into the 1960s.


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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria