The University of Iowa

Keokuk Downtown Historic Building Restoration Engineering & Design

Academic Year 
2019-2020
College/Department 
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Project Partner 

As part of their Senior Design Capstone course, Civil & Environmental Engineering students created designs for refurbishing three commercial structures in downtown Keokuk. 

The City of Keokuk owns three adjacent commercial structures in downtown Keokuk and is exploring alternatives for the future of the buildings, which have significantly dilapidated from their original glory.  All built in 1890 or before, the structures have exhibited signs of failure from water damage, fire damage, and soil settlement. Preservation of the buildings will require significant investment, but is important to preserving the historic character of the downtown district. 

The engineering team was tasked with conducting a structural analysis of the buildings and completing a restoration design, with the goal of future commercial use on the first floors of the properties and residential uses on the upper stories.

The first objective for the team was to seal the structures from further damage. This involved water drainage in the basements and roof repair to stop water leaks. The façade of 619 Main St must be reconnected to the main structure using a tie-back. All windows will be replaced to eliminate further pest and insect damage. Next, they made recommendations for all failing structural elements that will need to be replaced. The second design objective was to remove the damaged or unnecessary interior elements and to implement new floor plans.  The design included electricity, plumbing, and mechanical systems in each building. the final report also includes cost estimates, so that City of Keokuk officials can make informed decisions about the future of the properties.