204 Fifth Avenue – Karl Holst

by | Historic Homes

The first residents of this Craftsman house, built around 1910, were Karl Holst and his wife, Vera. Karl was a bookkeeper at the Council Bluffs Savings Bank.

According to the nomination of the Willow/Bluff/Third Street District to the National Register of Historic Places, Karl previously lived at the Kiel Hotel on Main Street, which was run by his family.

The hotel was founded by the family of Eliese Kiel who married Fred Holst, Karl’s uncle. Karl’s father, Diedrich (Fred’s brother), managed the hotel with a partner, Henry Spetman. The souvenier booklet of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of 1898, held in Omaha, wrote about the Kiel, “One of the best hotels in the city is the Kiel Hotel, located at from 501-507 Main Street, opposite county court house. It has first class accommodations with all modern improvements, and the prices are reasonable. Messrs. Holst & Spetman, the proprietors, have managed the house for twenty-one years with marked success.”

204 5th Ave., Holst

H.H. Field wrote, in his History of Pottawattamie County, that Fred Holst came to Pottawattamie County in 1869. “Born in the northern part of Germany, January 29, 1849, his parents were Fred and Margaretta Holst. The father died in Germany and the mother afterward married a Mr. Kiel, with whom she came to this country, settling in Council Bluffs in 1866. Mr Kiel……was engaged in the wholesale liquor business as a member of the firm of Linder & Kiel.(John Linder, 201 Third St., was the subject of this column in December of 2013.) Margaretta had three children from her first marriage: Fred, Dick (proprietor of the Kiel) and Henry, and one son, Jacob Kiel of Sioux City, from her second marriage.

Fred Holst was married in Council Bluffs in 1874 to Eliese Kiel, a native of Germany and a daughter of Christian Kiel. According to Field, Fred Holst worked first as a farm hand, although inexperienced in farming. In 1876, he located in Washington township where he rented some land and began farming, raising cattle, and investing in real estate, …”becoming one of the large landowners of the county, with property in Washington, Silver Creek, Keg Creek and Belknap townships….Mr. Holst is the founder of Treynor, which was laid out upon his land.” The Holst family played an active role in organizing the town’s Zion Congregational Church. In 1891, the residents of the new settlement, known as “High Five”, petitioned for a post office. When it opened in 1893, the settlement was renamed Treynor, after the recently deceased Council Bluffs postmaster, Thomas P. Treynor, who assisted them in their efforts.

(Fred Holst spent his early life as a sea captain. If you search “Kiel, Germany”, you will find that Kiel is a city of 242,000 and a major maritime center of northern Germany.)

By 1915, Karl Holst was no longer employed, due to ill health. The couple and their son continued to live in the house until 1929. In 1931 it became the home of Charles T. Officer, who had his own firm on Broadway, dealing in real estate, loans, rentals and insurance. C.T. Officer, according to the National Register nomination, was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth M. (Pusey) Officer. Thomas Officer was the senior partner in the private bank he established with his brother-in-law, William H.M. Pusey, in 1857.Officer and Pusey was reportedly the oldest banking house in Iowa.

The National Register nomination notes the following features: hipped roof and wide eave overhang; exposed rafter tails; original multi-pane over single-pane windows and fixed pane windows; wide and narrow clapboard siding; shallow rectangular stairwell bay on the side; a curved hood over the door with paired console brackets. According to the current owners, the sunroom on the east side with a bedroom above is a later addition.

Source Material

Preserve Council Bluffs acknowledges the following sources of information for this series: National Register of Historic Places nominations, the reference department of the Council Bluffs Public Library, the auditor’s office of the Pottawattamie County courthouse, Council Bluffs Community Development Department, homeowners, family members and individual research.

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