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Colonel Sawyer's House

Date: c. 1875


Description: Before Peters moved into what would become Morningside, the area only contained a small fruit farm and hills of undeveloped land. This house stood on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River just southeast of Sioux City East Addition, which is now Downtown. This house belonged to one of Sioux City’s earliest greats, Colonel James A. Sawyer (also appears in many instances as James A. Sawyers). Sawyer came to Sioux City in 1857 and was made a Colonel in the Mexican-American War. After the war he became involved in the freight business, and was captain of the Undine, an important steamboat ferry for Sioux City. He was also an explorer, manning two Niobrara expeditions into Montana to look for gold during the Gold Rush of 1865 and 1866. Before moving to this house in what became Morningside (called Sawyers Bluff), he built the largest brick building in Sioux City at the time on 2nd and Pearl Street. By the 1870s Sawyer had developed an interest in mining over the ferry business, and in 1878 he headed west to seek better mining opportunities. His family remained in Sioux City as long as they lived and they, along with Sawyer, are all buried at Floyd Cemetery.


This house on Sawyers Bluff was built in a mix of styles but has several key elements of the Gothic Revival style, which began in England in the 1740s but became most popular in the mid and late 19th century. The characteristics of the style seen on Sawyer’s home include the steeply pitched roof with a gable, or a triangular portion of a wall connected to the roof (it can be seen here next to the tower), and asymmetrical shape (you can see the short end of the L shaped house behind the trees on the right). The gable is decorated with a gingerbread-like trim or vergeboard. The house also has Italianate elements, with the tall, square tower, rounded arch windows, and long columns. Sawyer’s house was used for a tuberculosis hospital starting in 1896, where patients with terminal diseases were isolated to prevent the disease spread. It was torn down in the 1960s when Highway 75 was rerouted through the area. Trinity Lutheran Church remains one of the very few Gothic style buildings still standing in the city today.


Donor: Kenneth Kuhblank

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