My name is Kim Benesh. I have lived in Mount Vernon on and off since 1967. As a child I remember walking home from the Old Middle School down the street and cutting through the alley next to this building on my way down past the post office and home. My great grandfather Frank J. Benesh owned and operated a shoe store on the North side of this street, just down the block, and today, standing in front of this building, it’s easy for me to imagine him across the street and down half a block standing in front of his store sweeping up, stopping his work for a second and waving at me. All of these buildings remain timeless.
This building has historically been known as the Kopf Brothers Building and later, as the Hawkeye Building. The first successful Mount Vernon newspaper, the Mount Vernon Hawkeye, was printed here for many years under the ownership of S.H. Bauman. According to the History of Linn County, 1878, “Mr. Bauman is a talented man and genial gentleman, who has established himself among the first journalists of Iowa.”
The current building dates from 1904, and was built with a sand-colored brick that is not usually found in Mount Vernon buildings. The large steel beam above the ground floor windows, which in many other buildings is hidden by pressed tin decoration, is exposed here and, instead, decorated with small steel flowers that are bolted on. The second floor windows, with their rounded tops, are in the Romanesque style that was popular at the turn of the twentieth century. Note the imaginative ways that bricks have been moved forward, or set back, in order to create pattern in an otherwise plain wall.This building is among the last constructed in the district. It has served several times as as a women’s dress shop, a kitchen store, and bookstore. A similar building in color and style is the Methodist Parsonage to the west of the church at the end of the historic district.