Historic Albia, Iowa
With 92 buildings on the National Historic Register, Albia, Iowa, is a town preserved in time.
Albia is the county seat of Monroe County in south-central Iowa, with a population of 3,706 as of the 2000 census. The town’s historic square features buildings fitted with plaques giving specific details for each piece of architecture: when the buildings were built, what the buildings have been used for, who purchased the buildings.
For example, the E.M. Noble Block plaque states: “This building is one of the best examples of the commercial Queen Anne style from the early 1900s. The polygonal roofed oriels are the outstanding feature, but the corbeled cornice and round arched brick pediment with cast concrete panels are also noteworthy…. This double-front building has held a number of different businesses over the years, including the D&W Tea Company, which specialized in selling tea and Queensware (pottery), a specialty business that could not exist today given the population of the community.” There’s lots of good information like this on each sign.
The centerpiece of the downtown square is the Monroe County courthouse; a gazebo shares the spacious lawn. Buildings surrounding the square are mostly made of brick, some with painted accent colors. Some are completely painted – for example, the R.O Cramer building, built in 1890, is blue, white, and yellow; the Bates building, built in 1875, is yellow with black and white accents. Unlike many small-town Iowa squares, these buildings are not in need of repair, paint, or new windows. Most have their names and years painted at the top; most appear to be occupied.
One building, the First Iowa State Bank, is decorated in Victorian antiques. Many homes in Albia were also built in the Victorian era. Tours are given at the Walker House, located at 106 2nd Ave. West.
The Albia Restoration Days festival is held the fourth Saturday of each August. And a Victorian Stroll is held each December.