Adams-Higgins House

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Adams-Higgins House
Adams-Higgins House is located in Iowa
Adams-Higgins House
Adams-Higgins House is located in the United States
Adams-Higgins House
Location1215 Grand Ave.
Spencer, Iowa
Coordinates43°09′0.8″N 95°08′45″W / 43.150222°N 95.14583°W / 43.150222; -95.14583Coordinates: 43°09′0.8″N 95°08′45″W / 43.150222°N 95.14583°W / 43.150222; -95.14583
Arealess than one acre
Built1884, 1912
ArchitectJ. G. Ralston (1911 remodeling plans)
Architectural styleClassical Revival
Late Victorian
Part ofNorth Grand Avenue Residential Historic District (#14000212)
NRHP reference #84001214
Added to NRHPSeptember 27, 1984[1]

The Adams-Higgins House is a historic home in Spencer, Iowa, United States. It is located at 1215 Grand Avenue. The home is also referred to as the Higgins House or Higgins Mansion. The house is architecturally unusual because it was built as a late Victorian style house in 1884, then substantially renovated in 1912 with addition of neo-classical porches and roofline.[2]

In 1984, it was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1] At the time the property retained historic landscaping and a 32 feet (9.8 m) by 29 feet (8.8 m) playhouse from c. 1917-18.[2] In 2014 it was included as a contributing property in the North Grand Avenue Residential Historic District.[3]



The Adams-Higgins house, known locally as the Higgins Mansion or simply The Mansion, was built in 1884 by J.Q. Adams, a local farmer, banker, and sometime Mayor. The property was sold in 1900 to Amanda Bender, who soon sold it to Mr. and Mrs. William Higgins, newlyweds who had moved to Spencer from Chicago. They contracted architect J. G. Ralston of Waterloo, Iowa to make the home an architectural landmark, beginning in 1910, by adding massive Neo-classical columns, adding a third floor, iron fence surround, and a kidney-shaped fish pond. The building next to the house was originally built as the children's playhouse for the two children adopted off the Orphan Train when it passed through Spencer. For a short period, the playhouse was used as a classroom for children attending a nearby elementary school undergoing repairs. Mrs. Higgins died in 1961, and the property was sold at auction in 1962 to Mathilda Delaney. Mrs. Delaney occupied the home until 1983, when the property was sold to Paul and Paula Brenner, who successfully placed the home on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The Brenners completed restoration projects on the exterior and interior over the near-15 years of their ownership. The playhouse was renovated in 1993 by the Brenners, and used as their antique shop. The home passed to Drs. Jon and Debora Hade. The kitchen was remodeled and the cabinets used by Mr Higgins were brought up into the kitchen, his handwriting can be seen on one of the shelves. The dining room boasts a mahogany sideboard that runs from floor to ceiling. The painted mural in the dining room are signed by a Chicago artist. The Playhouse which at one time served as a school was moved to its current location and the current garage was built. The current owners Neal and Kitty Conover, completed the renovation work in 2005.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b James E. Jacobsen (August 22, 1984). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Adams-Higgins House / Higgins House". National Park Service. Retrieved July 12, 2016. with five photos from 1984 and two historic ones
  3. ^ Sheriffa M. Jones. "North Grand Avenue Residential Historic District" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2016-10-29.