Although the stone cottages nestled along the east side of Muscatine Avenue might evoke fairy-tale illustrations, they are very much a product of the 20th century. Inspired by such diverse sources as Cape Cod fishing huts, Asian-influenced Craftsman bungalows, thatched European cottages, and Southwestern adobe pueblos, the Moffitt cottages exemplify the eclecticism of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Howard F. Moffitt and his business partner, Ray Blakesley, designed and built over100 small, distinctive homes in Iowa City from the 1920s through the 1940s. Moffitt wanted to provide affordable housing that was practical, economical, and attractive. He was known for his ingenious - if unorthodox- methods and materials, reusing salvaged wood, brick, stones, and even nails. Bridge planking made a subflooring for one house, and 27 chair backs comprise the scalloped trim under the eaves at 713 Seventh Avenue. Thick stone walls and poured concrete floors facilitated passive cooling and heating, and Moffitt insulated his later houses with sawdust, perhaps inspired by icehouses that used sawdust to keep ice from melting in the summer heat.
Moffitt houses appear throughout the community, but primarily along the east side of Ralston Creek in the Longfellow Neighborhood and dotting the rolling hills in the Lucas Farms Neighborhood.