Historic photos guide the repair and restoration of CSPS Hall

(Feb 2011) Our sleuths have turned up a great collection of photographs to guide the CSPS restoration and fill out the history of the building in general.

An 1895 shot of the Bohemian-American Hose Company, for example, in front of their original CSPS digs, shows doors, sunburst pediments and brickwork, which remain to this day, and are currently being restored.


Solum Lang Architects of Cedar Rapids are consulting historic images to restore the Third Street storefronts, entryway arch and triangular pediment to their original glory. The mystery of whether the original firehouse doors opened vertically (like a garage) or folded open sideways was solved with photographs unearthed at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City. The doors opened sideways and will be restored as such.

We turned up a collection of photos by Iowa City photographer Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret giving an intimate view into a 1953 Czech wedding reception at CSPS.  Dave Rasdal’s Feb. 18 Ramblin’ column in the Cedar Rapids Gazette garnered some great memories and photos, including a set by Cedar Rapids photographer George Henry. These were taken at Anton and Katherine Netolicky’s 50th wedding anniversary dance in January 1954. They include a photo of dancers doing the “bunny hop,” a practice that was eventually outlawed at both CSPS and ZCBJ halls because of the concern raised by few hundred people hopping at once.

A turn-of-the-century postcard found in the files of the Carl and Mary Koehler History Center reveal a pharmacy and a wholesale flour business on the first floor. If you look closely, you can see a half-pint tricyclist haunting the archway entrance.
A History Center shot of a 1906 parade stopped in front of CSPS shows former mayor Isaac Wittam alongside a giant bass drum and a boy of the same height dressed all in white. This was a “progressive parade,” paused long enough to add CSPS lodge members to the fray.

Our oldest photograph (courtesy of the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library) takes us back to October 30, 1890, when a large crowd gathered for the auspicious laying of the CSPS cornerstone. The scene is sober, contrasting with the divadlo (theatre) and parties that would later grace the spot.

We plan to incorporate many of these images into a program or display at the re-opening of CSPS this summer.

If you have images taken at CSPS over the years, please contact Todd Kimm at 319-364-1580 or todd@legionarts.org, and we will make arrangements to have them scanned and returned quickly to your care.

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