310 Frank Street – Judge Frank Street
Frank Street was named for Judge Franklin Street, an early pioneer who played an important part in the settlement and growth of Council Bluffs. But did he live on Frank Street?
Oral history suggests that No. 310 was his home, but no written verification has been found. Whether or not he lived here, the historic architecture of the oldest house on the street and the judge’s contributions to the community are, indeed, significant. So today we celebrate the life and times of Frank Street.
The Street family, of the Quaker religion, can be traced to Salem, Salem County, New Jersey. They left New Jersey and moved through Ohio and Kentucky, settling near Knoxville, Tennessee where Franklin (Frank) Street was born on July 12, 1819.
After about five years, his father moved the family to Salem, Ohio. They left Ohio when Frank was 12 years old and settled in Illinois, near Springfield, eventually coming to Salem in Henry County, Iowa a few years later.
In 1853, he moved his family to Council Bluffs where they first lived in a log cabin. The Streets had six children- five sons (Cyrus, Eugene, Edgar, Sheridan, and Frank) and one daughter, (Hortense).
The year he came to Council Bluffs (1853), he was elected county judge and became the medium through which the lot owners acquired title to their claims. He commissioned Thomas Tostevin to survey the properties and opened an office in the 100 block of Broadway. His advertisement read, “Frank Street, Land Agent, Attorney & Counsellor at Law”.
He was one of the organizers of the Republican party and ran against Democrat W.H.M. Pusey for state senator in 1857 when the senatorial district extended along the river from Minnesota to the Missouri line. Sometimes it took an entire day to make the journey from one cabin to another.
Street lost the election, but the same year he was elected city recorder, a position he held for eight years. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
In 1859, Street was appointed city attorney, and in 1861 he was appointed registrar of the U.S. Land Office in Council Bluffs. After serving as Alderman for two years, Street was elected mayor in 1867. This was his last political office, except for Justice of the Peace, which he still held at the time of his death at age 58.
Frank Street died in his apartment at the Ogden House on February 17, 1877. His funeral service was held at the Presbyterian Church, which he joined in later years. He and his wife, who died in 1864, are buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.
The Italianate Villa type house at 310 Frank Street was built around 1865 or earlier. Architectural historian Jan Hull (Tallgrass Historians) explains that on the east coast this picturesque style was promoted as early as the 1840s and 1850s but those built in the Midwest are more typically from the late 1850s and 1860s.
The original house included a servant’s quarters- an addition on the west side. The house has a low-pitched roof with decorative bracketed cornices. The identical windows on all four sides of the house have double segmental arch brick lintels over framed double arch windows. According to research, the lintels are quite common, but the upper sash of the window itself is quite unusual and may suggest a southern influence.
An early “Bird’s Eye View of the City of Council Bluffs”, drawn by an artist in 1868, shows one house as the only structure on the hill.
Former Council Bluffs resident Lawrence Paulsen grew up in the house and, in a recent phone conversation, described the original front entrance as having a small, highly decorative front porch that faced down the hill to the north. He described a 1938 fire that destroyed the servant’s quarters and left heavy smoke damage.
The brick house has double walls with space between through which the fire spread. After the fire, his parents removed the small porch and moved the front entrance to the east side of the house, facing Frank Street. The original porch was replaced with a window identical to the other five windows on that side of the house, keeping the symmetrical design
They also removed what was left of the original servant’s quarters and added a small apartment for family use in its place. After the fire, the bricks were painted white. The house stands out in the neighborhood with its historic appearance and its black trim against the white bricks
The present owner plans to sell the house to move closer to her family members in Kansas City, adding, “I love it, and I know I will miss it.”
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.
Preserve Council Bluffs is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and preserve the heritage of Council Bluffs through its architecture, sites, and people.
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