Historical Society of
County Seat Council Bluffs, Iowa
Historic General Dodge House...
If it wasn't for Grenville Dodge, the Omaha/Council Bluffs would be different. A whole lot different. Some have speculated our combined population might be around 15,000 rather approaching a million.
It was all about the railroads, and it it wasn't for Dodge they wouldn't have come here to the extent they did. Some was intentional, some fortuitous, but it doesn't really matter: the railroads came.
By the late 1860′s Grenville M. Dodge was not only a nationally known and respected military general, railroad builder, and politician, he was one of the wealthiest citizens of Iowa. Council Bluffs was home, and he set forth to create a house that he could be comfortable in and enjoy the rest of his his life.
Dodge commissioned Chicago architect William Boyington to design his mansion, which was to be perched on a hill where he could view his growing and prospering city. Boyington had just completed Terrace Hill in Des Moines for Iowa’s first millionaire, Benjamin Franklin Allen.
The house at 605 Bond Street (now 3rd Street) combined elements of grace and vigor, with space for Mrs. Dodge to enjoy her interests of roses, poetry, and classical music and as well as space to entertain political and military dignitaries. The house incorporated many lovely woods including butternut and walnut as well as the rare amenities of central heating and hot and cold running water. The final cost was $30,000, a very impressive amount in 1869.
Following Dodge’s death in 1916 the home remained occupied by a member of the family until 1943. The house was offered to various groups in 1949 but there were no takers, so the contents were auctioned off and the house sold to Frances Taylor for $15,000. During that time the large archway between parlors was filled in and one of the bedrooms cut in half by a wall for its new life as a boarding house for teachers.
In 1963 a move was spearheaded by the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County to acquire the home. It was purchased for $30,000 in 1964. Though restoration was not complete tours were offered beginning in 1965. The adjacent Beresheim House was added to the museum complex in 1975.
The only National Historic Landmark in Council Bluffs, the museum is open for tours Tuesday through Sunday. It is closed in January and major holidays.