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Historic Tiles Reused

Business tiles that were removed from Third Street SE in the New Bohemia district of Cedar Rapids, Iowa were installed as part of Parlor City Pub and Eatery’s outdoor beer garden.
Photo by Eastern Iowa Life
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Historic sidewalk tiles are finding a new home in the New Bohemia district of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The tiles were removed as part of the city’s $3.1 million Third Street SE streetscape project that began earlier this year.

An artist is reproducing the tiles, which promoted businesses in the district; many with Czech names, such as the P. Karbusicky Saloon.

Meanwhile, Jon Jelinek and his son, Nick Jelinek, owners of Parlor City Pub and Eatery, 1125 Third St. SE, didn’t want to see the original blocks dumped in the landfill.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” Nick Jelinek said, quoting a phrase often used by his dad.

The two, along with friend, Rick Lovell recently spent part of their day installing several of the original blocks at Parlor City’s new beer garden.

“Hopefully when I’m older, they’ll still be here,” said Nick Jelinek, 31.

Most of the businesses are long-gone, but some have remnants in the New Bohemia district, such as the P. Hach Bottling House.

The Jelineks, who hauled and cleaned 25 to 40 of the 1,500-pound blocks – some in pieces – hope that many will go to new homes in the business district. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission will decide where the tiles will go.

Jan Stoffer, director of education and visitor services for the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, said the tiles date back to 1912 to 1915. Some were in both Czech and English, but many were in Czech only. Stoffer said the tiles were advertisements for businesses in the district, used to offset the cost of the sidewalk paving. Others can be seen in Czech Village on the other side of the Cedar River.

“Apparently they tried to do it downtown, too, and it didn’t fly,” she said.

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December 6, 2019, 12:41 pm PDT

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