Ottumwa Life We Are Ottumwa - Ottumwa Life Summer 2021 - Page 16

Realizing the American Dream

The post-World War II development of the North Fellows Historic District “ set the standard for affordable post-war housing in Ottumwa .”

The 1945 housing development is a set of four-room , two-bedroom houses , in accordance with the Federal Housing Authority “ minimum ” houses designed in the 1930s , according to the district ’ s nomination papers . However , the square footage of the homes was increased in the designs . “ This ‘ minimum house ’ concept allowed millions of people to attain the American Dream of home ownership ,” district nomination papers state .
The starter houses , it goes on to state , were not much bigger than many apartments but offered privacy , a little more space and the “ pride of ownership .” It was a largely middle-class development , which covered a growing range of people . They were a starting point from which rooms or a second story could be added .
The neighborhood stands out from other post-war residential developments as the homes were constructed from brick . “ It retains the highest level of integrity of all the post-World War II neighborhoods , possibly because it is more difficult to alter brick construction ,” the document reads . It goes on to state that it is the only completely brick residential development in Ottumwa .
The houses were built at the edge of town , in keeping with development that was taking place across the country following World War II .
Both the document and Dennis Willhoit , Ottumwa Historic Preservation Committee chair , said homeowners were allowed to select one of three possible layouts for the homes .
16 We Are Ottumwa