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
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.
One highlight is Spencerís historically
significant downtown 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
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.
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:
governmental and municipal services
array of retail shopping establishments
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.
Second Level Renovation
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
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
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.