Open to Public: Yes
Activities: Self-guided driving/walking tour
The Elkader Downtown Historic District was accepted to the National Register of Historic Places in March 2012. The historic district includes portions of the 100 and 200 blocks of Main Street and side streets.
The main business blocks are located along Main Street north and south of Bridge Street and a two block section of First Street further west. Elkader City Hall is located in the lower level of the Opera House (207 North Main Street, NRHP listed) and the Elkader Public Library is located across the street to the south at 130 North Main Street, both at the north end of the survey area.
Other resources near the business district listed on the National Register of Historic Places include the Keystone Bridge across the Turkey River at Bridge Street, the Clayton County Court House (111 High Street NE) across the river opposite the downtown at the northwest corner of High Street and Bridge Street and the Carter House Museum (101 SE High Street) diagonally across the street from the Clayton County Court House. There are five additional National Register sites within three blocks of downtown: Davis House, Price House, Schmidt House, Stemmer House and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
The physical layout of the downtown is relatively flat with a slight downward slope from north to south towards Mechanic Street. The swift waters of the Turkey River and its steep banks are the most dramatic topographic feature near the survey area. The downtown contains two small parks – Keystone Park occupies the southeast corner of South Main Street and Bridge Street overlooking the Turkey River and Mascara Park, named for Elkader’s Sister City, Mascara, Algeria, is adjacent to the Elkader Opera House along North Main Street.
The lengthy nomination process began in September 2010. An extensive documentation of the architectural and historical resources of the downtown district was complied including an inventory of individual downtown properties and historical documentation beginning in the early settlement years of 1846-1849. City officials and property owners worked with Marlys A. Svendsen of Svendsen Tyler, Inc. to complete the nomination documents.
The Downtown District is also designated as a Cultural and Entertainment District (CED) by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Check-out this video about the CED.