A boom interrupted what was a relatively quiet late Friday evening in downtown Cedar Rapids over the weekend. Witnesses who heard it thought it was an explosion, but it was part of the exterior cornice of a 7-story building crashing to the ground. It was the second time on a Friday in the building's history that part of it had collapsed. This time, however, it wasn't deadly.

At approximately 10:45 p.m. on Friday night, July 24, Cedar Rapids Police and Fire responded to the Iowa Building at 3rd Street and 4th Avenue S.E. When they arrived, they found almost the entire exterior cornice of the 4th Avenue side of the building scattered across 4th Avenue and parts of 3rd Street. A vehicle parked on the street below suffered severe damage.

A media release from the City of Cedar Rapids indicated the building's owner will have to have an architect or structural engineer study the building to find what is necessary to avoid further collapse and make repairs. The Iowa Building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thankfully, no one was injured in the partial collapse. A much different outcome than what happened decades ago.

Friday, November 14, 1913, the Iowa Building as it's known today, was under construction when a deadly catastrophe happened. Known as the Lyman Building at that time, disaster struck just after mid-afternoon.

According to Gazette archives, workers were on top of the unfinished seven-story building when the roof collapsed. Parts of each floor collapsed onto the ones below and in less than a half-minute, a portion of the building's basement had filled with rubble, leaving a pile of debris at least a story high.

There were 30 people working in the building at the time. Seven were killed and three others injured. The other 20 escaped injury. Gazette archives say the collapse was due to two frame sections that had “faulty and insufficient falsework in supporting concrete.”

The Lyman Building was to be built at a cost of $100,000, according to Gazette archives. Construction, which had begun on April 1, 1913, was halted by the accident. The building was finally completed approximately a year after the accident, in late 1914. When finished, it was renamed the Iowa Building.

Iowa Building Damage

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