It started as a condensed milk factory in the late 1880's, but it appears kids will soon be spending their days in the oldest building west of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids.

The Knutson Building opened in 1887 and has sat empty since the 2008 flood. Prior to that, I remember it only as a haunted house. However, it's meant a lot to Cedar Rapids, especially in the early years. According to Preservation Iowa, it's eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. There have been many times in recent years where it appeared headed for demolition, but thankfully it no longer looks like that will happen.

KCRG reports the recommendation to the Cedar Rapids City Council will be a $5.5 million proposal from Aspect, Inc. It would restore the existing building and add another and be used for a Montessori School "magnet" school for first through fifth graders. There is already a Montessori School in downtown Cedar Rapids. We know it well. The preschool/kindergarteners of the Cedar Valley Montessori School enjoy a playground just below our studio window.

The only negative about Aspect's proposal is they're asking the city for a half-million dollars right away to stabilize the building. Still, past estimates have had demolition of the building costing the city almost that much. This certainly seems a much better alternative and will take care of the one remaining eyesore along the west bank of the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids. The changes in that part of our city have been nothing short of amazing the last few years and this is one more crucial step.

[via Preservation Iowa and KCRG]