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[photo] Princess Cafe sign
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Current and historic images of the Princess--Sweet Shop
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

The Princess--Sweet Shop is an outstanding example of Art Deco design from 1935. The Carrara glass fašade, and streamlined woodwork are typical of Art Deco design of the 1920s and 1930s, but a rarity in a small town in Iowa. This building replaced a brick building, which burned on Christmas day 1934. The owners displayed a great deal of faith in the architect, and in the people of Iowa Falls too. The community was somewhat surprised when a drawing of the new fašade was released to the newspaper. Not only was the design modern, both inside and out, but the equipment was utmost in efficiency and convenience. It was the first building in town to be air-conditioned. Gas ranges replaced the old wood and coal stoves that had been used before the fire, and gas water heaters provided sufficient water for the washing and sterilizing of the dishes. The total cost for the building and equipment of the Princess was approximately $30,000, a surprising amount during the years of the Great Depression.

When the Princess--Sweet Shop reopened, the citizens of Iowa Falls could once again treat themselves to Princess "velvet" ice cream; Princess homemade candies and Chinese food. The chef was Yee Foong Young. The fašade of the Princess is outstanding; the street level features black Carrara glass with a pale green linear design at the corners and sides and dark zigzag treatment enframing the second floor windows. Trim on the building is "pitco" metal. The neon sign, which extends out from the fašade, was designed by the Pioneer Neon Sign Company of Minneapolis and was one of the largest in central Iowa in 1935.

Historic images of the Princess Cafe
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

The interior also retains a very high level of integrity and displays significant detailing. The 25-foot-long fountain with stools and original equipment still produces old fashioned shakes. The candy display cases are now used to display local school children's art projects. The fixtures are made of two-tone walnut. Panels of figured oriental walnut of light shades, imported from Africa, are at the ends of the tables in the booths. Avodire veneer and American Black Walnut is used in the booth suites, which have carved rosettes inlaid at the ends.

The Princess--Sweet Shop is located at 607 Washington Ave., in Iowa Falls. Still a cafe and ice cream parlor, it is open from 11:00am to 2:00pm and again for dinner at 4:00pm Monday-Saturday.

[graphic] Collage of different scenes from Hardin County
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