SPENCER CREATES space to live

SPENCER CREATES space to work

SPENCER CREATES space to play


Community Resources Neighborhoods

Culture & History

Downtown Spencer during the annual Grand Cruise.  Image courtesy Judy Hemphill.When first arriving in Spencer, Iowa, visitors are impressed immediately with the beautiful surroundings, vibrant business district, attractive neighborhoods, and abundant resources.  They discover a welcoming community full of optimismófriendly people proud of Spencerís history, engaged in civic endeavors, and enthusiastic about its future.

Spencerís Mainstreet has a vitality and appeal rarely found in communities of similar size.  Stores and shops are abundant on Grand Avenue, and they provide a wealth of products and services.  The impressive downtown features new streetlights, sidewalks, flower pots, and benches designed to be consistent with the historic Art Deco style of the buildings. 

Historic Downtown
One highlight is Spencerís historically significant downAn example of the Art Deco style of downtown Spencer.  Image courtesy Judy Hemphill.town district.  Much of this area was rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1931.  As a result of remarkable community efforts after the fire, two-thirds of the downtown commercial buildings in existence today were constructed in the Art Deco style.  In 2004, Spencerís business district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. A downtown walking tour reveals its artistic and historical treasures.

Cultural District
Spencer has a proud tradition of offering quality cultural and arts events.  In 2004, a group of citizens with a common interest in sustaining and developing Spencer as a cultural center formed the Spencer Alliance for a Creative Economy (SPACE).  Their collaboration resulted in downtown Spencer being designated as a Cultural District in Iowa.  Its strength as a cultural center makes Spencer an inviting place to live.

Image courtesy Judy Hemphill.Quality of Life
Spencer has much to offer to individuals and families searching to find a community with excellent quality of life.  Examples of available community resources include:

  • Top-notch schools
  • State-of-the-art health-care facilities
  • Abundant recreational opportunities
  • Great parks-and-trails system
  • Attractive neighborhoods
  • Dynamic industrial park
  • Supportive governmental and municipal services
  • Wide array of retail shopping establishments
  • Variety of churches
  • Accessible transportation options

Spencer is committed to creating a diverse cultural environment that appeals to a variety of people.  A single visit to Spencer will convince you that this is the ideal place to live and call home.


Downtown Second Level Renovation

Downtown Spencer property owner Chris Bjornstad had a dream.  He wanted to take the unused second floor area above "The Wardrobe, Etc." business and create new living space for Spencer's historic and cultural downtown area.  The second floor space, comprising nearly 5,000 square feet of area, had been vacant for 30 years.

Chris found willing partners to help his dream become a reality. Spencer Housing Investment Company had recently been founded for just such a purpose--to create new living space in the upper floors of downtown Spencer's historic buildings.  The Bjornstad project was the perfect place to start.

With the help of Spencer Main Street Company, Main Street Iowa, and the Federal Home Loan Bank, Bjornstad secured funding for the project.  The Spencer City Council and the city's Planning and Zoning Commission embraced the vision, and passed a tax abatement ordinance for the development of upper-floor living spaces.  Matt Barstad, a local architect and member of Spencer Housing Investment Co., designed two, 2,400 square foot loft apartments that capitalized on the unique nature of the space. After the roof to the building was replaced, construction began in 2002 and was completed in 2003.  Almost immediately, tenants were found for the unique living units that were created.

The Bjornstad Loft Project was recognized as the Best Upper Floor Rehabilitation Project at the 2004 Main Street Iowa Awards.

With one dream realized, the Spencer Housing Investment Company is looking for additional downtown buildings to renovate, further enhancing the spaces to live in Spencer's historic and cultural districts.

about SPACE

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