Sala Apartments (Dr. St. Elmo Morgan Sala)

320-330 19th StreetSala Apartments


Individual National Register Designation, 2003; Rock Island's 100 Most Significant Unprotected Structures, 2009

Significance Statement

Last remaining historical apartment building in downtown.

Architectural Style

Italian Renaissance Revival

Construction Date


Architect / Builder

Drack, Leonard, Architect; McClane, C.D., Architect

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The southern section of the Sala Apartment Building was built in 1903 and designed by Leonard Drack. The northern section was added a decade later in 1913 and was designed by C.D. McLane. This apartment building is considered to be one of the earliest and finest multiple family dwellings in the city.


The apartment building consisted of 25 units arranged around five interior light wells, in addition to the raised basement, which had three commercial spaces, three apartments and storage. Masonry in construction, the building has a six-course ashlar limestone foundation above a wide water table and below a molded stone stringcourse. The upper stories are beige pressed brick. Three Classical entrances are symmetrically placed and feature stone corner pilasters, a narrow Roman Ionic capital with an egg-and-dart detail and a stone entablature with the name “Sala.”


The interiors of the apartments feature original oak and pine woodwork, fireplaces, some original light fixtures, original radiators and porcelain bathroom fixtures. In the 1913 addition, the interior details distinctly reflect the Craftsman movement. For instance, most of the dining rooms have vertical panel wainscoting strips and high plate rails and the stair rails and fireplaces reflect the simplicity of the style. This is an interesting depiction in how styles change in just 10 years.

The Salas

Dr. St. Elmo Morgan Sala was the owner and first tenant of the Sala Apartment Building. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all physicians. Dr. St. Elmo Sala graduated from the Keokuk Medical College in 1982 and immediately opened an office in Rock Island.

Previous to building the flats, the Salas lived at 322 19th Street in a large house they had purchased in 1898. Dr. Sala directed architect Leonard Drack to build the apartments just south of his residence. The Salas moved into apartment 101 in the new building and Dr. Sala’s medical offices were directly below in the commercial space.

Dr. Sala died suddenly in 1921 and his widow Mary Elizabeth inherited the property. In 1928 she wed Judge Robert W. Olmsted. Mary Sala Olmsted died in 1931. Olmsted purchased the building from Mary Sala’s estate in 1936 and his daughters, Margaret and Jeannette eventually inherited the building. Jeannette graduated from Augustana College in 1928 and died in 1971. Margaret, born in 1894, was valedictorian of her 1915 Augustana College class. She received an M.A. from the University of Illinois in 1916. Margaret Olmsted joined the faculty of Augustana College in 1921 and retired 30 years later as professor emerita of classics. She died in 1994.


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