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University of Iowa News Release


May 9, 2011

UI law student writes histories of Moffitt Homes for Iowa City Parade of Historic Homes

Friends of Historic Preservation will host its annual Parade of Historic Homes on Sunday, May 15, and an Iowa law student with an idiosyncratic love of old documents and unique architecture is adding a unique twist to the event.

Third-year law student Charles "Ned" Brasington has volunteered with the Friends throughout his three years in law school. This semester, he led a team of law students that examined title documents of the so-called "Moffitt Houses," idiosyncratic homes that are unique to Iowa City.

Built by entrepreneur Howard Moffitt between the 1920s and 1940s, the one-of-a-kind cottages were made from stone and with many recycled materials. Dozens were built to accommodate a rapidly expanding university population that was seeking small homes to rent. Moffitt was able to interpret and romanticize period-styles to create small cottages and houses, making most of them easily identified by their massive stone or brick chimney and cladding.

However, what makes the Moffitt houses particularly charming is their scale, unique features and extensive use of recycled and salvaged materials in their construction. Brasington has created "genealogies" for the homes to tell the stories of their owners, delving into primary sources like newspaper archives and city directories to write the stories. He also took photographs of the Moffitts and other Iowa City homes that will be used by historian Jeff Schabilion in a Parade-related discussion about Iowa City architecture on Saturday, May 14.

"When you live in Europe and you see these buildings built in the 15th century and then in America you see an old building knocked down to be a Hardees, it's kind of disheartening," Brasington said. "This is about preserving our heritage. It's important."

Eight of the Moffitt homes located around Ginter, Pickard and Friendly streets will be open for viewing from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 15. Schabilion will present his overview of Iowa City's masonry structures covering Old Capitol, the Pentacrest and an in-depth view of Moffitt houses. The program will be start at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Iowa City Public Library, meeting room A. The Saturday lecture is free and open to the public, and admission to the Sunday tour is $10, with children under 12 free. Tour proceeds will support the work of Friends of Historic Preservation.

For a list of addresses, a map and more information, please check

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell),