By Austin Petroski
One of Iowa City’s nationally registered historic buildings will be seeing some changes within the coming months.
Project GREEN, a nonprofit group in Iowa City devoted to beautifying green spaces within public spaces in Iowa City, is set to begin the renovation on the Ashton House.
The Iowa City Ashton House is named after the original owner Ned Ashton, a university professor of civil engineering. The house was built in 1947 and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Iowa City bought the house in 2011, and today the home hosts various private events, including weddings and parties.
At the Iowa City Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Thursday night, Project GREEN members Diane Allen and Laura Hawks gave a presentation about the renovations to the historic home.
Project GREEN, an Iowa City nonprofit volunteer organization of more than 300 members started in 1968, is devoted to beautifying entrances, public spaces, and schools, Allen said.
“Our goal is educating the public through projects, including garden forums, fairs and tours,” she said Allen.
The organization receives money through the various events it hosts, including the Iowa City library forums and the fairs and tours. The organization also receives much of its money through grants and donations, such as the Rural Energy for America Program, Allen said.
The organization also has some of its donations ear marked for the project, meaning the money can only be used for the Ashton House.
Hawkspresented proposed accommodations to the historic Ashton House.
Hawks said along with the addition of 23 parking spaces to the north side of the house, they are also looking at making the site friendlier to individuals with disabilities by adding a handicap ramp, along with a new entryway monument for aesthetics. The organization is also looking to reconstruct the old terrace in outside the house.
Hawks also said part of the renovations would include upgrading the green space in the area around the house.
“Our goal would be to advance the environment in this area,” Hawks said.
Hawks said Project GREEN also proposes to add a reforestration to the Ashton property near in river in an effort to help control the area in the event of flooding. A rain garden along with interpretive signage will also be proposed, Hawks said. She also said the group was planning on utilizing mostly natives plants to the Iowa ecosystem in order to help avoid problems for the plants in case of drought or other environmental impact.
Clay Claussen, member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said he thought the organization is underappreciated and the Ashton House area is much improved.
“Now that it is visible, it really does look nice,” Claussen said.