Harper House (Stuart & Grace Harper)
1600 20th Street
Rock Island's 100 Most Significant Unprotected Structures, 2009
Significance StatementPrairie style mansion with stucco covered walls.
Architect / Builder
On December 31, 1907, The Argus reported that Stuart Harper, and his wife, Grace Velie Harper, had just built this home and carriage house, described as "stucco, graceful in style of architecture," at a cost of $35,000. It was an exorbitant amount, costing more than twice the price of the Potter House, built the same year.
This rambling two-story home is considered to be in the Prairie style because of its overall form, but it also has Craftsman and Colonial Revival details, such as the knee brackets on the square columned porte cochere by the main entrance, and modillions, or flat brackets, above and below the second story on the front gable. The exterior of the house is rough-textured stucco, called "spatterdash," with simple window and door frames. Typical of the Craftsman influence are the exposed rafter ends. Surprisingly, the view from the house focuses on the south rather than the panoramic river view to the north. This emphasis is particularly apparent on the second floor, where the north facing windows are in bathrooms, closets or other utilitarian areas. The Y-shaped house wraps around a large tile patio, with original Prairie-style lanterns, and an even larger lawn that overlooks the city at treetop level.
Stuart, who was the son of developer and former Mayor Ben Harper, and Grace Velie Harper, the daughter of Stephen Velie and granddaughter of John Deere, lived here just two years. They sold the home in 1909 to Irvin S. White and his wife, Margaret, who renamed the estate "The Lindens." Irvin White was president of State Bank of Rock Island. The family owned it until 1943, when John and Margaret Scheuerman bought it for only $17,000. In 1948, they sold the house to the First Lutheran Church for $50,000. The congregation converted the carriage house to their church and used the second floor of the home as the parsonage for a time. Today the entire house is used for parish purposes.