The Old Town Historic District, located north of downtown Ames, includes a unique collection of homes which illustrate the history of domestic architecture in Ames from the 1870's to the mid-1920's. Within the boundaries are found nearly all of the remaining residential structures from the first two plats of Ames, the Original Town and Blair's Addition. This includes the largest and best preserved concentration of late 19th and early 20th century residential architecture in Ames.
The 12-block area was designated a local historic district in 1989 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The architecture here is an important part of the community's history. As a local historic district, alterations to the exterior of structures are reviewed and approved by the City's Historic Preservation Commission. This process ensures that the architecture will remain for future generations to learn from and enjoy.
The area has seen numerous changes since its beginnings. A number of the early homes were built for prominent families involved in the development of Ames including business leaders and university faculty. Initially, Douglas Avenue was "the place to live" with Duff Avenue soon to follow. Around 1930, the 9th Street corridor became prominent.
The size, style, and detail of these homes vary greatly from elaborate Queen Anne and Italianate to simpler bungalows and vernacular styles. Beginning in the 1950's, the neighborhood answered the need for rental housing, resulting in the division of some of the larger structures into several rental units. Recently people have discovered the value and convenience of the area's geographical location within a growing city. Restoration/preservation activity combined with long term maintenance activity is making a significant impact on the area as once again the neighborhood has become a source of pride and interest for the community. Today the neighborhood provides a variety of housing choices as owners work to preserve this significant part of Ames' history.
Source: Historic Old Town Neighborhood Association, Old Town Historic District, Ames, IA, 2011, www.visitames.com, accessed June, 2014.
8th Street • 9th Street • Burnett Avenue • Clark Avenue • Douglas Avenue • Duff Avenue • Kellogg Avenue