The S.M. McKibben House is located near the Mississippi River on the lower half of block 14 of the original town. This area was predominately a residential area adjacent to the Muscatine business district during the 19th century. The house is a two-story (approximately 40’ x 25’) double house constructed of red brick in common bond with headers every eighth course. Because of its construction date and the background of its builder, a simple Federal style, with a New England style influence, is the most appropriate style designation (Sissel 1973).
The description by D. Kent Sissel on the 1973 nomination form is as follows: "The front façade has a symmetrical arrangement of openings: six-over-six-light double-hung windows; 2 or 3-light transoms above the entries; and on the second floor of each residential unit, a large 12-light window that opens onto a balcony. The original porch entrances, front doors, first floor windows and window headings have been removed or replaced. In addition, the cast iron railings of the cantilevered balconies were removed and retained by the Fryberger family when the building was scheduled for demolition. The two houses were heated by stoves that were vented to in-wall chimneys located in the outer gable ends of the house along the apex of the roof. The rear façade is also a symmetrical arrangement of openings almost identical to the front with the elimination of the balconies and the use of the smaller 12-light window in their place. Gable end facades have no openings on the basement or first floor levels; the second floor has one 12-light window on the Walnut Street side of the wall; and the below gable space of the attic is accentuated by a centrally placed arched window (it is presumed the stove flues are double inside the wall and converge around the top of this attic opening) (Sissel 1973)."
There have been two repair periods for this building over the last 40 years. The first set of repairs was started in 1964 so it could be used as a rental storage property. Work included rehabilitation of the brick walls (mainly on the rear façade) and lower window sills, replacement of the roof and lower story windows and chimney repairs. A second period of rehabilitation was conducted after 1974 when the building faced demolition because of urban renewal plans. With an immediate threat looming, this building aroused the concern of prospective developers. David Sinclair eventually purchased the property on June 25, 1977 for private redevelopment. Specific work projects are unknown, but it appears there was renovation of interior walls to provide improved office spaces, restoration of a stairway and basement remodeling that included a cement floor and new wall framing on the basement walls.
The original McKibben–Fryberger House room arrangement was as follows: an open dirt basement, three rooms on the first floor, three rooms on the second floor and an open attic. The basement has been remodeled to include a cement floor and finished walls. The first floor has four main rooms, with an entry hall on the west side. The floor plan for the second floor has not been substantially altered and the open attic also remains.
Currently, the house reflects a similar appearance as described in the 1973 nomination, with the benefit of the rehabilitation in the late 1970s. The front (east) façade is symmetrical and a small porch with two sets of stairs lead to the entries. Each single-door entry on the façade has a three-light transom window. Each unit of the house has two first story six-over-six-light double-hung windows. The three second story windows for each unit also have six-over-six-light double-hung sashes, though the middle windows are longer than the flanking windows, stretching down to the floor of the balconies. The balconies have a decorative metal rail and wood floor. It is assumed that both the windows and balconies date to the rehabilitation in the late 1970s. Three-light basement windows are also found on the façade under the brick water table.
The south and north side elevations are similar, with interior end brick chimneys at both gables. There is a single window opening on the second floor of each elevation. Each unit is a six-over-six light, double-hung unit that is set in the east upper corner of each elevation. Each elevation also has an attic window that is centrally located in the gable. There are no other openings on the north elevation, but the south elevation contains an outside basement entrance. The opening is located in the west corner and is covered by a commercial, metal, basement areaway door.
The rear (west) elevation includes a second-story row of six windows. Each unit is a six-over-six-light, double-hung window that matches the rest of the windows in the house. There is a matching first-floor window below each of the second story windows in this elevation, except for the second opening from each end. A wood, four-panel door is present in each of these openings. A small, three-light transom is located above each of these doors. In addition to the fenestration, two small chimneys are centrally located on the west section of the roof, making them visible only from the rear.
Narrative Statement of Significance:
The S.M. McKibben House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 under Criterion B and C. The McKibben House stands as a well-preserved example of double house construction in Muscatine. Maintaining both its interior and exterior integrity, it is one of the few early structures that remains in the oldest residential section of this river town. A short picket fence encloses the perimeter of the yard on the north side. The boundary for the site appears to be the lot historically associated with the property.
The builder, Samuel M. McKibben, was an early settler and businessman of Muscatine. The New England, Federal and colonial overtones of this building are perhaps suggestive of McKibben’s earlier life, being formerly from Pennsylvania. McKibben arrived in Muscatine in 1850 and initially operated as a lumber merchant. He also become involved in agricultural activities and was one of the local residents who signed the constitution of the Muscatine County Agricultural Society in 1852. By the mid-1860s his prosperous business ventures enabled him to build this residence for his family between 1866 and 1869. In 1866 he partnered with William McCormick in manufacturing cultivators and with Fredrick Giesenhaus to operate a saloon. The saloon and the cultivator showroom were both located at 273 Second, which was also McKibben’s residence. He also developed a pork packing partnership with Giesenhaus, but ill health forced him to abandon it and kept him from extensively working over the next several years. By 1874 McKibben was engaged in the grocery business with a son, although this apparently did not last for an extended time and management of his real estate became his primary vocation (Sissel 1973).