201 Third Street – Dr. Henry B. Jennings
It isn’t often that an architect so loves the house he designed that he buys it from the builder and makes it his home for 22 years.
Edward P. Schoentgen designed this home for Dr. Henry B. Jennings, his wife, Hattie, and their family in 1902. (The family had previously resided at 129 S. Fourth Street which was also the location of Dr. Jennings’ office, according to the nomination of the Third/Bluff/Willow district to the National Register of Historic Places).
Dr. Jennings came to Council Bluffs around 1892. He served as county coroner, then as city physician. By 1907 he had a successful practice as a physician and surgeon in an office on Pearl Street, and was on the executive committee of the Council Bluffs Commercial Club. The couple had four children.
The Jennings sold the property in 1922 to its architect, Edward Schoentgen, and moved to a home on McPherson Avenue. Dr. Jennings died in 1929.
Edward Schoentgen, born in Council Bluffs in 1873, had several careers. He first trained as an architect at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied for two years in France. He began his career with a St. Louis firm, returning to Council Bluffs in 1899 where he established the firm of Cox & Schoentgen with Frederic Cox. He was the architectural member of the State Capitol Commission, appointed in 1902 by Governor Cummins to renovate and complete the State House in Des Moines.
He retired from active practice in 1910 to become vice-president of the Groneweg & Schoentgen Co., taking over his father’s position. In the early 1900s it was the largest wholesale grocery business in western Iowa. He became the company’s president in 1931. In the 1920s he was also vice-president of the Council Bluffs Savings Bank, and served as a member of the Iowa State Board of Education.
Edward P. and Mabel Pratt Schoentgen’s son, John, was married to actor Henry Fonda’s younger sister, Jane. Henry’s children, Jane and Peter, spent a considerable amount of time in Council Bluffs during their early years. The Schoentgen’s lived at 348 Woodland Drive.
Tallgrass Historians, authors of the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, call the house an excellent example of the Neoclassical style of architecture, with its distinctive two-story rounded Classical porch, exaggerated scrolled pediments over the door and front first floor windows, modillion blocks at the eave overhang, cornice returns, and gabled/pedimented dormers. The garage on the north side was originally a porte-cochere. The summer porch on the south side, originally closed-in, is now an open porch.
Besides Dr. Jennings, two other doctors lived at 201 Third Street: Dr. Arthur Brown and Dr. Francis Richardson. The house was sometimes referred to as the “House of Doctors”.
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, individual research and, for this story, Suzanne Winter.
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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