The historic mansion at 607 West Main Street in Marshalltown is in danger of being destroyed, but a group is rallying to help preserve the beloved structure.
The construction of the now abandoned house was completed in 1901, with three floors, 16 rooms, a basement and an attic. Now the house suffers from structural and settling issues as well as exterior damage from the 2018 tornado and 2020 derecho.
Beth and Nick Sy from the vlog channel “Reality Dream” drew attention to the structure last spring when they documented the house’s state of disrepair during a video tour.
“We’ve both loved the house for a long time just walking past it, and I think a lot of people in Marshalltown feel the same way,” Beth said.
News of the mansion’s condition also blew up on various Marshalltown Facebook pages and groups. Reality Daydream’s significant audience on YouTube and Instagram beyond Marshalltown is also invested in the trip. The architectural flourishes of the house have been featured in many books. and it is an important focal point on the main street of Marshalltown.
“Some people lived there. Some people remember being there. Everyone loves the window of the heart ”, Beth said. “It’s just kind of a staple in the Marshalltown scene. and I think people are really sad that it’s gone forever.
After contacting the owner with information on restoring the house, they learned that the owner wanted the house to go. Reality Daydream wants to make sure that the owner, a private party, is not seen in a bad light and thinks there is nothing wrong with them. Several others attempted to restore the house and struggled, with funding also a barrier.
Currently, the owner wants the house to be demolished if it cannot be moved from the lot, but has made a deal to sell the house to Reality Daydream if it can be done.
The first step is to move the house from the lot, Reality Daydream now looks at the options for open lots and determines the feasibility of moving the house. The plan is to keep the house in the Main Street neighborhood and find a way to integrate it with others around it. Once a new lot is secured and the house is moved, work will begin to restore the exterior and possibly the interior.
Planning for official fundraising efforts, a crucial aspect in making the project possible, is underway. Donations can currently be made to the @RealityDaydream Venmo account.
“We feel that this is a project for the community,” Nick said. “The community loves the house. We want to see it preserved as much as everyone else. and it’s going to cost an astronomical sum. There is no way we can fix it and sell it and not be underwater on it several times.
Reality Daydream is working to build a team experienced in historical restoration and in partnership with the Historical Society of Marshall County who has agreed to act as a fiscal sponsor. This allows designated funds to be donated to the Marshall County Historical Society for the limited purpose of supporting the project. Reality Daydream and the Historical Society of Marshall County are in the process of formalizing this agreement.
“The mission of the historical society is to preserve and share the rich history of this county”, Marshall County Historical Society administrator Michelle Roseburrough Halverson said. “This particular structure is recognized nationally for its architecture and locally for its significance here on our historic Main Street, so I’m very excited about it and wish them the best in this endeavor.”
To claim tax credits, a business must be operating outside the home. Reality Daydream is considering a guest room idea, with additional plans for events and weddings
“What I’m predicting is that as a bed and breakfast it should bring about 480 people a year to Marshalltown,” Nick said. “As an event center, I see it attracting thousands of people. “
Gaynelle Jacobson, owner of the house from 1949 to 2003, was a passionate horticulturalist. Nick said he would like a garden in the house to be developed to honor the previous generations who have lived there.
“I think this is something that would really help the community of Marshalltown”, Nick said. “To have something like that, an event center with an outdoor garden. I would like it to be like a Reiman Gardens in a scaled down version.
For those who wish to follow updates on the mansion, these can follow “Reality Dream” on YouTube and Instagram.
If all goes according to plan, the hope is to move the house in the spring or summer of 2022.
Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or