By Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Czech Village could have a new, smaller version of its iconic roundhouse within a few years.
The roundhouse, used for farmers markets, festivals and other gatherings, opened in 1963, and was dismantled after the 2008 flood, when the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library moved to its spot on higher ground.
The Riverside Roundhouse is shown next to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library before it was dismantled following the 2008 flood to make way for the move of the museum. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Generations of Czech Village area residents fondly remember the farmers markets, where fresh flowers, plants, baked goods, fruits, vegetables and handcrafted items were sold.
During a meeting this week, Cedar Rapids officials discussed plans for a new version of the roundhouse, which would be included in a development off of 18th Avenue SW, where more than 100 homes stood before the record-high flooding.
A rendering shown during the Sept. 27, 2023, city meeting shows the concept for the new roundhouse for Czech Village.
Jesse Howe, project engineer for the city, said about 100 to 125 people could be seated inside the new roundhouse with tables, or perhaps 175 with seating only. It would not be designed for produce trucks to pull up to market stalls, as the former roundhouse was, though vehicles could potentially park on paved sections around the building.
“Farmers markets are not the primary vision for it,” he said.
Rather, the venue, which would be enclosed with large glass doors for an indoor/outdoor flow, could be used for events and rented for small weddings, corporate gatherings and graduation parties.
“We’re trying not to compete with everybody else,” Howe said.
The roundhouse, streetscaping, festival lighting, signs and other elements are being funded through a $3 million Destination Iowa grant, via American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The city also will contribute $5.5 million toward the development.
Construction is expected to begin in 2025, with completion sometime in 2026.
Alex Andersen is shown during the deconstruction process of the Riverside Roundhouse in 2010. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Pieces of the original roundhouse will not be used in the new construction, Howe said. The building was deconstructed after the 2008 flood by volunteers, led by Alex Andersen, then-owner of Ernie’s Tavern.
Those pieces still are in storage, and perhaps could be incorporated into signs for the development, he said, adding “they’re in pretty rough condition.”
The nonprofit Friends of Czech Village held Czech Village Blues benefit concerts for years as a fundraiser to resurrect the roundhouse, but those efforts did not come to fruition, as the city prioritized other efforts over the roundhouse. Organizers donated the money from the concerts to the Cedar Rapids Parks Foundation.