Burlington's Homes on the "Hill"
Immediately north of the Hawkeye Creek Ravine, where the 19th-century Burlington business district developed, is Heritage Hill Historical District. The architecture of the hill is a composite of many architectural periods and styles. Many of the noteworthy homes represent Victorian, Greek, Gothic, and Neo-Classical styles. The physical qualities of the hill were largely responsible for its attractiveness to residents. Lumbermen, manufacturers, lawyers, and other professionals built their homes on the Hill beginning in the 1840’s.
Heritage Hill Historic District contains 141 structures; including 113 residences. Many of the homes on the Hill possess rich history from Burlington’s beginning years. The Carson (601 N. 6th) and Hedge (607 N. 5th) families amassed considerable millwork empires. Philip M. Crapo (515 N. 6th) made his fortune in insurance and farm loans. Silas Hudson (501 N. 5th) wrote for the New York Tribune for twenty years; he wrote the 1844 city charter and brought Lincoln to Burlington in 1858 for a speech. The south exposure of the hillside and crest make Heritage Hill an ideal building site, taking advantage of the full exposure to the sun and providing panoramic views of the river.
The south facing slope was developed early in the young community’s life, becoming an area of concentration for city functions, religious celebrations, and other civic events. In 1869 the Hawk Eye newspaper claimed, “As everyone knows, North Hill (aka Heritage Hill) is a fashionable, tip top, bon ton, aristocratic, elegant, cream de la cream part of the city and we are glad to see they are determined to maintain their reputation.”
Written by: Rodney Botts is the current President of the Heritage Hill Association. He is also a former board member for the Des Moines County Historical Society. Mr. Botts currently volunteers at the Port of Burlington Welcome Center and is the Director of Marketing for the South Eastern Iowa Air Show.